The design of multi-session HIV prevention interventions targeting young people may ultimately prove alienating to that demographic. Publishing their study findings in AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, researchers examined the effects of perceived pressure, perceived efficacy and fear among 386 young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 participating in one such program in Duval County, Florida,

The researchers found that when young people feel pressured or coerced to make lifestyle or behavioral changes during the intervention they frequently go on the defensive and are less likely to return for the follow-up sessions that ensure such programs' efficacy. This finding was particularly poignant among the 18- to 22-year-olds. Young people are also less likely to make it to another counseling session if they believe that their first experience was ineffective or irrelevant to their life.

“Our findings suggest that practitioners [should] make efforts to ensure younger clients in particular do not feel coerced, because such threats to autonomy can backfire,” the report states. “Practitioners should also make efforts to explicitly communicate the efficacy of the intervention and to foster a sense of self-relevance [perhaps by] delivering tailored information about HIV risk in a personalized manner.”
The study found no association between the fear of HIV and retention in the intervention.

Males and those who were on the older end of the youth spectrum were more likely to return for follow-up sessions than females or the younger set.

To read the press release, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.