exist. New barrier methods, especially nonspermicidal viricides, are needed. Moreover, new technologies need to be developed for STD diagnosis and new programs implemented to reach infected women.

  • Women need to participate in the research and development of HIV intervention programs targeted to them. Their participation may lead to the identification of new prevention technologies that are responsive to women's needs.

INTERVENTIONS TARGETING YOUTH

Before discussing HIV/AIDS intervention programs that target youth, it is useful to define this group as it is referred to in this chapter. We adopt the WHO definition of adolescents, which includes persons from 10 to 24 years of age (World Health Organization, 1986) and use the terms "youth" and "adolescents" interchangeably.8 People under 10 years old are referred to as children, and those aged 25 and older as adults. We adopt these definitions while acknowledging that in some African cultures, persons over 25, especially if not married, are still considered youth, and some younger than 25, especially if married, are considered adults.

It is imperative that HIV-prevention strategies reach youth before they become sexually active. Lives can be saved by educating youth before they acquire their attitudes about delaying sexual intercourse and about safe sexual practices such as condom use and nonpenetrative sex and by promoting a sociocultural environment that encourages these practices. These messages must be compatible with local mores and cultural beliefs. To the extent that prevention messages are realistic, clear, and expressed in language youth can readily understand, interventions are more likely to have a positive effect. Where social practices conflict with prevention needs, considerable dialogue among public health officials and parents, teachers, politicians, and religious and tribal leaders is needed. Multi-component intervention strategies are important in targeting youth. Innovation, variety, and persuasive messages from respected sources such as peers and influential adults, as well as a supportive environment, play key roles in such programs.

Issues

Perhaps the most important task of adolescents is growing up. Integral to this process is the acquisition of adult skills and habits, including learning about

8  

 Terms such as "children," "youth," "school-age youth," "young people," "adolescents,'' "teenagers," "young girls," "young boys," "young women," "young men," and "young adults" have been used to define target populations. Because they frequently are used as if referring to the same group but may be interpreted differently by different people, we have chosen to be quite precise in our definition.



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