Background: The highest rates of Chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhea (GC) are among African American (AA) and Latino/a adolescents in South Los Angeles (LA). In 2012, South LA had nearly double the CT and more than four times the GC cases among women ages 15-24 than the next-highest region. To address this issue, community stakeholders developed a peer-led “Spring into Love” summit on sexual and relationship health.
Methods: Four youth groups from South LA organized a one-day youth summit with workshops on: 1)healthy relationships, 2)consent and coercion, 3)STDs and birth control, 4)access to services, and 5)an outreach/art session where youth were provided STD test kits and information and could create a large health-themed mural. Also at this event, youth were recruited to form a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to conduct outreach and plan events for their peers. A matched pre- and post-test was conducted to evaluate changes in knowledge, intentional behavior and attitudes, empowerment, and awareness of available teen resources. Changes were assessed using paired t-tests. The perceived usefulness of the summit was also assessed. A 6 month follow-up evaluation is planned.
Results: 150 high school students participated in the workshop; 67% were female; 100% AA or Latino/a; and, 66% completed a pre-, post- event survey. Results showed increases in knowledge, intentional behavior and attitudes, empowerment, and most significantly, awareness of available teen health resources. Fifteen were recruited and have remained actively engaged in a YAC planning peer led interventions. The 6 month follow up is in progress.
Conclusions: Youth led-events are effective at increasing knowledge and assessing attitudes about sexual and relationship health, improving intended behavior change, increasing awareness of youth-friendly sexual health resources, and engaging youth to create community change and is an effective means to identify and recruit peer leadership for a YAC to plan future STI interventions.