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Better HIV prevention interventions needed for juvenile offenders
Date:4/14/2011

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. More intensive or family-based HIV prevention interventions may be needed to encourage juvenile offenders to use condoms and stop engaging in risky sexual behavior, say researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC).

Juvenile offenders are at increased risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases because they tend to have sex at earlier ages, have more sexual partners, use condoms less frequently and engage in more substance and alcohol use. Young offenders who are court-monitored but living at home in the community also have more opportunities to engage in these risk behaviors.

In a pilot study published in the April issue of the Journal of Correctional Health Care, researchers tested whether a group-based, adolescent-only HIV prevention program which has been successful with other groups of teens would increase condom use among substance-abusing juvenile offenders. But in a surprising twist, researchers say they did not find any differences in terms of condom use and risky sexual behavior between the adolescents who received the intervention and a separate group of juvenile offenders who were enrolled in a basic health education group.

"Although we did not get the results we expected, this study did shed some light on what components need to be incorporated into an HIV intervention prevention in order to be successful with juvenile drug court offenders," says lead author Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D., a child psychologist and researcher with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center.

Tolou-Shams notes that family involvement has typically not been a factor in few HIV prevention interventions for juvenile offenders. "Research increasingly suggests that family-based interventions, focusing on parenting factors, such as parent-child communication about sex, play an important role in encouraging safe sex behavior," she says. "But to date, parental inv
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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