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AIDS Educ Prev. 2003 Apr;15(2):159-71.

Differences in altruistic roles and HIV risk perception among staff, peer educators, and students in an adolescent peer education program.

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Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94503, USA.


This qualitative study examines how adolescent peer educators understand and communicate HIV prevention messages. Semistructured ethnographic interviews were conducted with 21 program participants, including staff, peer educators, and students. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using concept analysis, a method for identifying shared concepts among interview subjects. We found (a) similar beliefs about HIV transmission and risk reduction across groups; (b) different, but strong, altruistic roles among staff and peer educators; and (c) differences in HIV risk perception across the three groups. Altruistic roles took two forms. Staff acted as life skills mentors, whereas peer educators acted as HIV educators. Students were more passive, receiving counseling but not passing it on to others. Staff contextualized HIV risk, whereas peer educators and students emphasized risk. Although similar HIV knowledge across groups suggests program efficacy, stronger altruistic roles or contextualization of HIV risk may affect how prevention messages are delivered.

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