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Gender and Culturally Tailored Interventions Help Curb STDs in Black Girls


Black girls who undergo gender and culturally tailored HIV interventions are significantly less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease.

The study by Emory University public health researchers is being presented at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. It analyzed the self-reported sexual behavior and condom usage among 439 sexually active black female girls between the ages of 15 and 21.

Some of the girls participated in an HIV intervention called HORIZONS, a multi-modality, relationship-focused intervention emphasizing ethnic and gender pride, HIV knowledge, communication, condom use skills and healthy relationships.

The HORIZONS intervention was administered in two four-hour group sessions and augmented with four brief individualized telephone contacts designed to reinforce safer sex motivations. The group of young women in the comparison, or control group, participated in one HIV prevention group session.

The researchers found that girls who participated in the HORIZONS intervention were less likely to have contracted a STD and were more likely to consistently use condoms during sex when compared to the girls who did not undergo HORIZONS training.

“African-American adolescent females seeking treatment for STDs are at high risk for HIV. However, no interventions have demonstrated efficacy in reducing HIV-associated sexual behaviors among this vulnerable subgroup,” says Ralph DiClemente, PhD, Candler professor of public health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, and study co-author.

“We found that gender-tailored and culturally-congruent interventions can reduce bacterial STD infections and enhance HIV-preventive behaviors,” DiClemente says.

The HORIZONS intervention program was created at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health by researchers DiClemente and Gina Wingood, ScD, MPH. The program is now being used as a model nationwide.


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