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J Adolesc Health. 2002 Jul;31(1):31-9.

Tapping youth as agents for change: evaluation of a peer leadership HIV/AIDS intervention.

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  • 1Medical Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



To evaluate the impact of a community-based HIV/AIDS peer leadership prevention program on newly enrolled peer leaders and youth enrolled as peer educators for one or more years (repeat peer leaders).


Quasi-experimental nonrandomized design with two intervention groups (newly enrolled and repeat peer leaders) and one comparison group. The sample consisted of 235 adolescents, 164 peer leaders, and 71 comparison youth, drawn from nine communities in Massachusetts. The intervention consisted of a short course and ongoing group work with an adult advisor to plan and implement HIV/AIDS outreach activities for youth. A confidential questionnaire administered at baseline and postintervention measured change in (a) HIV/AIDS knowledge, (b) planning and presenting skills, (c) self-efficacy, (d) perception of one's self as a change agent in the community, and (e) sexual risk-taking behaviors. Information was collected from both groups of peer leaders on specific activities resulting from the program and perceived benefits. Data were analyzed by both descriptive and multivariate statistics.


Over a 9-month period newly enrolled peer leaders had significantly higher mean scores for HIV/AIDS knowledge and perception of one's self as a change agent in the community than comparison youth. On all baseline outcome measures except risk-taking behaviors, repeat peer leaders reported higher scores than newly enrolled peer leaders. Post-intervention, HIV/AIDS knowledge continued to increase significantly more among repeat peer leaders compared with those newly enrolled in the program. Repeat peer leaders also reported more benefits from peer leadership training.


A peer education program was found to have benefits to adolescent peer leaders. Benefits gained from the program were sustained and enhanced over time as evidenced by repeat peer leaders included in the study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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