Helping youth develop a healthy sexuality: a pre-risk prevention approach for involving families in adolescent sexual health promotion in Sub-Sahara Africa
Presented by Kim S Miller (United States).
K.S. Miller1, M. Poulsen1, S.C. Wyckoff2, H. Vandenhoudt3
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, United States, 2University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States, 3Institute for Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
Issues: To raise an HIV-free generation, prevention efforts must begin before sexual behaviors are established. Many youth initiate sexual risk behaviors in preadolescence, yet HIV prevention programs are typically implemented in adolescence, missing an important window for prevention. Pre-risk prevention efforts are needed to equip youth with knowledge and skills to make healthy and responsible decisions about sexual behavior.
Description: Family-based programming may play an important role in reaching youth early with sexual health prevention messages. Based on extensive research on parent-child communication, we developed and rigorously evaluated a program that enables parents to help shape their children's decisions about sexual behavior. Extensive formative work was conducted to adapt the program to Kenya. The Families Matter! Program (FMP) is a five-session evidence-based intervention for caregivers of children aged 9-12 years that gives parents knowledge and skills to communicate about sexuality with their children.
Lessons learned: Significant cultural taboos exist in many cultures that bar parents from speaking with their children about sexuality and sexual decision-making. Additional challenges include rites of passage rituals, and cultural changes that have altered the context of sexuality education. Despite these challenges, over 50,000 Kenyan families have participated in FMP, and the program has been adopted by six additional countries: Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Next steps: The success of FMP demonstrates that programs involving parents as sexuality educators can be implemented and embraced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Parents are clearly willing to abrogate cultural norms to protect their children's sexual health.
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