Curricula Review of Emergency Plan Centrally-Funded HIV Prevention Programs for Youth

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Author(s): Lopez C, Speizer I

Year: 2009


In an effort to mitigate the spread of HIV in developing nations, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports HIV prevention programs that emphasize "abstinence and be faithful for youth" (ABY)among a broader array of prevention interventions. The focus of this report is on multi-country, multi-year PEPFAR ABY programs implemented by 14 nongovernmental and faith-based organizations that were awarded a total of $100 million in central funding by the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of HIV/AIDS at the beginning of PEPFAR. Most of these ABY programs are curriculum-based programs; however, to date, the curricula have not been evaluated for quality. Furthermore, few published standards and guidelines exist for HIV prevention curricula, especially for developing countries. This paper uses an evaluation tool that compiles known characteristics of high quality reproductive health and HIV prevention curricula to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of curricula used by centrally-funded PEPFAR ABY programs. Recommendations are made for strengthening the curricula reviewed. In general, curricula reviewed used a variety of participatory teaching methods and addressed such life skills as self-esteem and effective communication, covered topics in a logical sequence, and addressed multiple risk and protective factors affecting sexual behaviors. Curricula vary greatly in their use of skills-based exercises within the lessons, with curricula for younger youth being more likely to use strategies that build skills of participants. Curricula for older adolescents and young adults were weaker since they did not adequately address the needs of sexually experienced youth, including secondary abstinence, mutual faithfulness, and condom use. Topics such as sexual violence, drugs, and communication with parents were not well covered in most of the curricula reviewed. This review is useful for program managers 1) seeking to strengthen their current curricula (if using one of the curricula reviewed), 2) searching for a curriculum to use in a future HIV prevention program for youth, 3) wanting to identify lessons that could be borrowed from other curricula to strengthen their current program, or 4) designing new curricula that are sure to have the components of effective curriculum-based programs.

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