Background: Richmond is home to four colleges. Current surveillance collected by the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) supports the need for strengthened relationships and targeted prevention activities within the city’s college student population. Data from 2012 reveal that approximately 85% of reported chlamydia and gonorrhea cases occurred in people aged 15 to 29 years. According to the College Board, the average age for students at each of Richmond’s college institutions falls within this range. This indicates that a considerable number of people in the highest risk groups for STI contraction in Richmond are also members of Richmond’s college student population.
Methods: We conducted a needs assessment with faculty and staff involved with health and student related activities at each institution. This assessment was designed to aid and guide the planning, implementation, and evaluation of innovative and targeted projects to promote sexual health, increase student engagement in peer education, and promote behavioral changes with the college communities. We utilized a mixed-methods approach. We conducted group and individual interviews with faculty, staff, to include student peer educators, as well as abstracted qualitative data from meeting minutes. From surveys, we also collected qualitative and quantitative data on selected indicators. Data were collected, analyzed, and interpreted using standard procedures.
Results: Successful community engagement strategies implemented included: the identification and implementation of group and community-level behavioral interventions, the development and distribution of a University/College Resource Guide, as well as new capacity for STI screenings and educational activities both on campuses and in surrounding communities.
Conclusions: The development of relationships with area colleges, local health districts and key stakeholders could provide desired and necessary STI prevention and community engagement strategies in an effort to address high rates of STI and promote healthier sexual behaviors among college student populations.