Background: Based on 2011 data, young African American men and women aged 15 – 24 years experienced the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and infectious syphilis among all racial/ethnic groups, and studies suggest that historically black college and university campuses (HBCUs) are not immune to these disparities. Increasingly research calls for culturally-competent interventions to reduce STI transmission and promote healthy sexual behaviors.
Methods: Two curricula were developed providing tools and information on STI prevention, and healthy sexual behaviors and relationships. The 2-day training conducted by a health/sex educator and a trained counselor is designed to enable student participants to develop skills and action plans to reduce sexual risk-taking and promote healthy relationships with their partners and peers. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyze participant responses to pre and post-tests, and a six-week follow-up assessment. The instruments measured STI and relationship knowledge and self-reported behavior.
Results: The curricula have been tested with 58 participants, in 8 sessions, on two HBCU campuses. Assessment findings indicated knowledge retention and reduction of sexual risk. Results also demonstrated the value of culturally-specific STI interventions, particularly where religious beliefs play a significant role in the college experience. Participant responses showed that interventions that cultivate and support healthy sexual relationships are instrumental in STI risk reduction. Such interventions should also address positive masculinity and femininity, relationship trust, and other emotional aspects of sexuality.
Conclusions: The implementation of the culturally-competent curricula in the campus setting provided opportunities for young African American men and women to increase their knowledge of STIs and improve their risk reduction skills. In addition, a majority of the participants indicated plans to develop more emotionally healthy sexual relationships. HBCU campuses can provide supportive environments for the effective implementation of interventions leading to the reduction of STIs in this disproportionately burdened population.