HIV/AIDS knowledge among adolescents: did a prevention campaign make a difference?

Eleven percent of all HIV diagnoses reported in Europe in 2012 were in people aged 15-24. Many young people lack knowledge about HIV/AIDS modes of transmission and ways of prevention. To approach this vulnerable population Sunflower, a EU-funded project (2008-2011) was run in 9 countries. It consisted of four phases, including analysis of local contexts and definition of good practices. These first two steps led to a European prevention campaign.

In a study we recently published, the authors aimed to evaluate the results of a questionnaire given to young people before and after the above mentioned prevention campaign in Eastern Slovakia. The campaign focused on creating a supportive environment for adolescents to adopt their beliefs and behaviours leading to a reduced risk for HIV infection. Moreover, it was focused on advocacy, behaviour change communication and education. It included lectures, discussions, demonstration of condom use, leaflets etc.

To assess the effectiveness of the campaign, a questionnaire was administered pre and post (1 year) the intervention. There was data for 553 students pre-intervention and 496 students post-intervention. The results of the study can be summarised as follows:

– Students increased their general knowledge of HIV/AIDS. They also increased their knowledge of the risk of acquiring HIV infection in different situations

– Girls showed a much greater improvement, even if they had worse pre-intervention scores.

The authors conclude that, for the selected sample, this campaign was an effective tool to increase young peoples’ knowledge on HIV/AIDS


* This study was written by Lucia Hlavinkova, Andrej Mentel, Jana Kollarova and Zuzana Kristufkova

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