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Health Educ Q. 1986 Winter;13(4):407-21.

AIDS risk reduction: a community health education intervention for minority high risk group members.


During the past year, members of the Detroit Health Department health education staff have developed an Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) community education intervention. The intervention was designed in response to the growing public health problem of AIDS and the need to provide the community with accurate information regarding the transmission and prevention of the disease. The gap in AIDS education and information was particularly evident in the black community. In attempting to develop a comprehensive health education program, the staff encountered a number of barriers. Traditional antagonisms between the high-risk groups, homosexual and bisexual males and intravenous drug abusers, and the health department hampered the ability of the intervention team to design a clinic centered program. Concurrently, lack of access to the high-risk population and reactionary public sentiment toward the disease posed serious problems for developing community support for the implementation of an effective community-based program. The intervention team also found that traditional methodologies of health education program planning were inadequate. The staff lacked sufficient data on the beliefs and attitudes of the high-risk populations necessary to design relevant risk reduction activities. Recognizing our limited awareness and accessibility to the high risk groups, a strategy was developed to encourage members of the high-risk population to assume a leadership role in the development and implementation of the community-based program. The success of the Community Health Awareness Group (C-HAG) is, in part, a result of the willingness of high risk individuals to assume some responsibility in educating themselves and others. It also speaks to the efficacy of collaborative relationships between health workers and target populations when designing public health interventions.

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