Ann Arbor, Mich. -- A culturally tailored HIV-prevention program can help reduce risky sexual behaviors among Latino adolescents, even a year after students attended the training, according to a study led by University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania researchers.
Education is needed to reverse some disturbing trends among Latino teens, said U-M nursing professor Antonia M. Villarruel, who conducted the study with John B. Jemmott III, a professor at Penn's Annenberg School of Communication and Loretta S. Jemmott, a professor at Penn's School of Nursing.
The incidence of AIDS among adult and adolescent Latinos was more than three times higher than for whites in a 2001 study. Heterosexual contact is the major mode of HIV transmission among Latino adolescents.
Latino youth are more likely than whites to have sexual intercourse before the age of 13 and multiple sexual partners, according to the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Other studies have shown that Latino adolescents also are less likely to use condoms than African American or white adolescents.
Villarruel, who is director of the Center for Health Promotion at the U-M School of Nursing, said there is growing evidence that behavioral training, which is culturally tailored and age-appropriate, is more effective with minority adolescents.
"This study is an important contribution in assisting Latino adolescents to decrease HIV sexual risk behavior," Villarruel said. "It also gives practitioners evidence for how to guide and support adolescents in sexual decision-making."
The research involved 553 adolescents (249 males and 304 females) self-identified as Latino who were recruited from three northeast Philadelphia high schools and community-based neighborhood organizations. More than 85 percent of the participants were Puerto Rican, with nearly half born outside the mainland United States. Participants averaged 14.9 years of a
Contact: Karl Leif Bates
University of Michigan