A large-scale human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) intervention/education effort aimed at helping
South African men take a proactive role in the prevention of that disease has
proven successful, an important development considering that country has the
largest number of HIV infections in the world.
Researchers, led by Prof John B. Jemmott, III, Annenberg
School for Communication and the Perelman School of Medicine; and Loretta Sweet
Jemmott from Penn Nursing Science* developed an intervention involving nearly 1
200 individuals, who participated in customized and proactive education
programmes on condom usage and the importance of discussing safe sex in their
relationships. The results of their study are being reported this week in
the American Journal of Public
Health (Volume 104, Issue 2).
Nearly 1 200 individuals in 44 neighbourhoods near East
London in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa participated in the programme
and follow-up surveys conducted over a 12-month period. Approximately half
participated in an HIV/STI (sexually transmitted infection) risk reduction intervention,
and half in a general health information (control) intervention.
Intervention programmesParticipants were recruited via community meetings and public gathering places
such as marketplaces, taxi stands, and shebeens (after-hours drinking clubs).
The intervention programs, called “Men, Together Making a Difference", were
conducted in isiXhosa.
The intervention sessions involved rituals such as beginning
with a “Circle of Men", which enabled all participants, regardless of age or
economic status, to develop stronger bonds. Additional components of the
HIV/STI prevention included a video magazine, “The Subject Is: HIV”, addressing
the impact of the disease in South Africa; a video drama “Eiyish!”, addressing
dangers of multiple partners and the failure to use condoms; take-home
assignments; and in-class role-playing to increase the discussion and
ultimately the use of condoms.
Follow-up surveysFollow-up surveys after one year showed an increase in condom use by
participants, regardless of whether they were involved with steady or casual
partners for intercourse. (From 54% to 63% for men involved with steady
partners and from 77% to 79% for men involved with casual partners.) Also,
follow-up surveys showed slight decreases in the occurrences of unprotected
Participants also reported a 4 to 5% increase in the number
of times men talked to their partners about condom use prior to sex.“The fact that HIV affects women most severely in regions such as the
sub-Saharan Africa where heterosexual
exposure is a dominant mode of HIV transmission is well established,” the
authors write in the article.
interventions to change the heterosexual behaviour of men have been developed
and rigorously evaluated.” They note that not only was this the first
large-scale study of its kind, but that South African men demonstrated a
willingness to attend multiple intervention sessions, participate in role-play condom
use scenarios, and return for repeated efficacy assessments.
They stressed the need for additional research to strengthen
the impact of intervention programs.Read more:
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