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Safer Sex Campaign
Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound
In 1992, a prime-time television documentary entitled "Sexual Survival" aired on KING 5 TV in Seattle. This program specifically targeted adolescents and explicitly described the acquisition, symptoms, identification, and treatment of a number of STDs. It was a component of the "Safer Sex Campaign," which was cosponsored by the Group Health Cooperative (GHC), Planned Parenthood, and KING 5 TV; the program was developed with the assistance of an advisory board composed of representatives from local community-based organizations. "Sexual Survival" was supplemented by two workshops called "Parent Talk: Teaching Your Child About Sexuality,'' and "Safer Choices: Sex in the 90's." In addition, GHC, KING 5 TV, and Planned Parenthood developed three educational pamphlets and two videos for distribution.
Community response to the program was evaluated by quantifying program viewers and workshop participants. "Sexual Survival" had a market share of 39 percent, with an estimated 500,000-750,000 viewers. There were four favorable responses for every unfavorable one among the 350 calls received in the hour-and-a-half following the broadcast (10-11:30 PM). The ratio jumped in the following week, when favorable calls outnumbered the unfavorable by 10 to 1. Workshop participation was high: "Parent Talk" was conducted 66 times and served 1,000 people; "Safer Choices" had 235 participants in 23 workshops. In addition to these measures of participation, the campaign was featured on "NBC Nightly News," and GHC received hundreds of letters of support.
GHC continues to distribute the pamphlets created as a part of the Safer Sex Campaign in its clinics. One of the pamphlets ("What is an STD?") defines the term "sexually transmitted diseases"; supplies summaries of the six most common STDs, including HIV; provides a risk assessment quiz; furnishes descriptions of common STD-related symptoms, high-risk behaviors, and STD prevention measures; and lists area clinics and resources. The second pamphlet ("Parent Talk: Teaching Your Child About Sexuality") makes both general and specific suggestions to help parents serve as their children's primary sexuality educators. Age- and developmentally appropriate information and approaches are recommended and selected community resources are cited. The third pamplet ("Safer Choices: Sex in the 90's") defines safer sex, furnishes a list of high-risk behaviors, and discusses attitudes and communication techniques as they relate to effective safer sex negotiations.
Despite the relative success of the program, GHC does not plan to replicate it and is now shifting its STD prevention focus from the community to the individual patient. Currently, GHC's intention is to encourage providers to make prevention education a regular part of the patient-provider interaction. GHC has recently received funding to study the best ways to incorporate HIV/STD risk