Monday, March 14, 2011

The Fight To End HIV/AIDS Today Continues On All Fronts!

The fight to end HIV/AIDS today continues on all fronts! From service providers to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, who find themselves struggling to live a quality life while attending to their daily needs beyond the obvious medical needs, to the HIV educators and prevention case managers who present themselves daily before audiences of individuals who fit into particular high-risk target groups. We are carrying the fight like never before because there are interventions that work towards stopping the random spread of HIV infection. These interventions are referred to the Diffusion of Effective Behavior Interventions (DEBI) Projects and are science-based individual and group based models that address HIV prevention among targeted populations.

These interventions are developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and have proven to be most effective. Here is a brief overview of some of these DEBIs;

*Project AIM is a group-level youth development intervention designed to reduce HIV risk behaviors among youth. It is based on the Theory of Possible Selves and encourages at-risk youth to imagine a positive future and discuss how current risk behaviors can be a barrier to a successful adulthood.

*Healthy Relationships is a five-session, small-group intervention for men and women living with HIV/AIDS. It is based on Social Cognitive Theory and focuses on developing skills and building self-efficacy and positive expectations about new behaviors through modeling behaviors and practicing new skills.

*The SISTA Project specifically targets sexually active African-American women. The intervention is based on Social Learning theory as well as the theory of Gender and Power.

*Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) is a 7-session, group-level intervention program to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among black men who have sex with men (MSM) who may or may not identify themselves as gay.

*Safe in the City (SITC) is a 23-minute HIV/STD prevention video for STD clinic waiting rooms. This video has been shown to be effective in reducing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among diverse groups of STD clinic patients. Safe in the City aims to increase condom use and other safer sex behaviors, and thereby reduce infections among patients who view the video in the clinic waiting room.

*Popular Opinion Leader, this community-level intervention involves identifying, enlisting, and training key opinion leaders to encourage safer sexual norms and behaviors within their social networks through risk-reduction conversations.

*The Street Smart Program targets youth, ages 11 to 18. The original research was conducted with runaway youth and homeless youth; however the intervention is not limited to that sub-population.

These science-based interventions are being used by federally-funded community based organizations in many cities as part of the ongoing efforts to not only educate individuals but to help them change behaviors and address the determinates to the behavior that put individuals at high risk for HIV infection.

With all the other influences within the society that all but dictate sexual behaviors, it is a tremendous task to highlight the importance of HIV awareness and education among, especially, the younger generation. Even as we see the media downplay messages about HIV/AIDS, we in the field know that one infection is too many, as this is still a 100% preventable infection.

Still, the community must continue to galvanize itself against the further spread of HIV/AIDS by supporting the community-based organizations in the community that provide the educational services.

Ernest A. Donelson II

Ernest Donelson is an HIV Education Specialist & Prevention Case Manager at an AIDS Awareness Program in Memphis, TN. Contact Ernest at

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