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The Benefits of a Friendship-Based HIV/STI Prevention Intervention for African American Youth

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This article presents findings from a qualitative evaluation of an HIV/STI (sexually transmitted infection) prevention intervention for urban African American youth (Project ÒRÉ), which was delivered to groups of 3 to 8 adolescents who were members of the same friendship network. Sixteen focus groups (N = 63) were conducted with youth following their participation in the intervention. Results demonstrate high acceptability of the intervention. Both males and females revealed multiple benefits of attending the intervention with friends including feeling more comfortable, experiencing general satisfaction with the program, experiencing greater ease in talking and expressing self, being able to reveal sensitive information, and being able to relate to each other's experiences. Additional themes were presented only by males including feeling a sense of cohesion, the ability to protect each other from HIV/STIs in the future, and feeling safe. These results suggest that delivering HIV/STI and other prevention interventions within adolescents' friendship networks may offer unique benefits not found with traditional programs that include random groupings of youth who are not familiar with each other. © The Author(s) 2012.

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