Mathews, C., Eggers, S.M., Townsend, L., et al. AIDS and Behavior (May 2016), e-publication ahead of print.
This cluster-randomized controlled trial, PREPARE, conducted among young adolescents (average age 13 years) in Western Cape, South Africa, evaluated an HIV prevention program that included a focus on reducing IPV and sexual violence. The multi-component intervention at the 20 intervention schools included an educational program (21 sessions delivered once a week, immediately when school ended, on the school premises); a school health service (education on sexual and reproductive health or SRH, identification of need for SRH services or commodities, and referral to the nearest community clinic if needed); and a school safety program. Participants in the 22 control schools received school as usual, which excluded the after-school program, the school health service, and the safety program. Of 6,244 sampled adolescents, 55.3 percent participated. At 12 months there were no differences between intervention and control arms in sexual risk behaviors. However, participants in the intervention arm were less likely to report IPV victimization (35.1% versus 40.9%), suggesting that behavioral HIV prevention programs that include a focus on IPV prevention can reduce self-reported intimate partner violence. The authors concluded that interventions such as PREPARE have potential beneficial effects on one of the factors that strongly affects adolescents’ risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV.