Psychological and Behavioral Interventions to Reduce HIV Risk: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial among Orphaned and Vulnerable Adolescents in South Africa

May 2016 - Behavioral Prevention

View Full Edition Send to a Friend

Thurman, T.R., Kidman, R., Carton, T.W., and Chiroro, P. AIDS Care (February 2016), 28(1): 8–15, doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1146213.

This cluster-randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of two interventions, offered independently and in combination, on sexual risk behaviors among 14- to 17-year-old orphaned and vulnerable adolescents in South Africa (N = 1016). Participants were randomized into one of the four experimental conditions:

  1. The Vhutshilo (Life) intervention only (13 weekly 60-minute sessions covering alcohol and substance abuse, crime and sexual violence, HIV, healthy sexual relationships, transactional sex, and condom use)
  2. Interpersonal psychotherapy for groups (IPTG) only (16 weekly 90-minute group sessions that included practice on interpersonal skills and emotional support among group members)
  3. IPTG followed immediately by Vhutshilo
  4. No new interventions aside from standard care (control group).

The authors interviewed each participant three times over 22 months. They reported 95 percent retention, and observed significant effects (which varied by gender) among adolescents enrolled in both interventions. Girls enrolled in both interventions showed significant increases in consistent condom use relative to the control group; boys had significant decreases in the prevalence of risky sexual partnerships relative to those in the control group at the final follow-up survey. The authors concluded that strategically packaging psychological and behavioral interventions together may achieve greater reductions in sexual risk behavior among adolescents. 

Search the Prevention Update Archive