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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2013 Jun 1;63 Suppl 1:S59-65. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31829202c4.

Efficacy of SISTA South Africa on sexual behavior and relationship control among isiXhosa women in South Africa: results of a randomized-controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30342, USA.



The HIV epidemic has a devastating impact among South African women. The current study evaluated the efficacy of SISTA South Africa, a culturally congruent HIV intervention for isiXhosa women in South Africa, which was adapted from SISTA, an HIV intervention for African American women.


A randomized-controlled trial recruited 342 isiXhosa women aged 18-35 years. Participants were randomized to the general health comparison or the SISTA South Africa intervention. Xhosa-speaking peer health educators tailored the SISTA South Africa curriculum, while maintaining the core elements of the original SISTA intervention. Participants completed assessments at baseline and 6 months follow-up.


Relative to participants in the comparison, participants in the HIV intervention reduced the frequency of unprotected vaginal intercourse acts (adjusted mean difference = 1.06; P = 0.02), were more likely to report not desiring dry sex (adjusted odds ratio = 0.229; 95% confidence interval = 0.10 to 0.47; P = 0.0001), and were more likely to perceive that their main sexual partner did not desire dry sex (adjusted odds ratio = 0.24; 95% confidence interval = 0.11 to 0.52; P = 0.0001). In addition, women randomized to the intervention also reported an increase in HIV knowledge, greater relationship control, and had more opposing attitudes toward HIV stigma. The HIV intervention did not reduce sexually transmitted infection incidence.


This trial demonstrates that an HIV intervention, which is adapted to enhance its gender and cultural relevance for rural isiXhosa women, can reduce self-reported sexual risk behaviors and enhance mediators of HIV among this vulnerable population.

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