Author(s): Morton M, Nelson L, Walsh C, Zimmerman S, Coe RM
The adolescent population has recently been recognized as one of the groups at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Statistics are beginning to document the extent of this trend. This study is aimed at determining adolescent sexual behaviors and the efficacy of a medical student-run acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) education program. Medical students taught 2,169 high school students in the St. Louis area with a pre- and post- intervention questionnaire administered to record levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge and sexual practices. Data revealed that 56.4% of the respondents were sexually active with 70.4% having multiple partners and 61.0% admitting to unprotected sex. These students demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge about HIV infection after the educational program. The results show that, adolescents are sexually active and more importantly, they are practicing behaviors that put them at risk for HIV/AIDS, a risk which they recognize. Finally, the educational intervention did increase students' knowledge of HIV/AIDS. This may not translate into a change in behaviors, but it is a first step.