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Best HIV-Prevention Programs Help People Build Skills

A new evidence review is arming local health agencies with the most effective ways of stopping the spread of HIV – role-playing, better personal communication and proper condom use, for example.//

But the government-backed study excluded from consideration needle-exchange and substance-abuse programs because they are not eligible for federal funding despite evidence of their effectiveness.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined 100 HIV prevention programs tested between 2000 and 2004 and found 18 that seem to work and could be adopted by local agencies with federal money.

The approaches target several high-risk groups, including minorities and HIV-positive people, and work in various ways. But they do tend to share one thing in common —they’re intended to not only teach people about AIDS and HIV but to also help them learn what to do in specific situations, such as when risky sex is on the horizon.

“It’s enhanced education, where you actually build their skills and don’t just give them information,” said review lead author Cynthia Lyles, a prevention researcher at the CDC.

Role-playing, for example, could help people learn how to avoid getting infected during sexual encounters.

As of late 2004, an estimated 415,193 Americans were HIV-positive or had gone on to develop AIDS. Forty-three percent were black; 58 percent of the men were infected through homosexual sex, while heterosexual sex infected 64 percent of the women.

In order to give local agencies a better handle on the latest research, the CDC launched a review of studies that examined prevention strategies. The findings appear in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“We were basically trying to target the prevention-providers that are looking to the CDC for funding,” Lyles said. “They can decide if one of these is best suited for them.” Only programs that coul
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