Using culturally sensitive media messages to reduce HIV-associated sexual behavior in high-risk African American adolescents: Results from a randomized trial

Sharon Sznitman, Peter A. Vanable, Michael P. Carey, Michael Hennessy, Larry K. Brown, Robert F. Valois, Bonita F. Stanton, Laura F. Salazar, Ralph Diclemente, Naomi Farber, Daniel Romer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To test the long-term effects of a mass media intervention that used culturally and developmentally appropriate messages to enhance human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-preventive beliefs and behavior of high-risk African American adolescents. Methods: Television and radio messages were delivered for more than 3 years in two cities (Syracuse, NY; and Macon, GA) that were randomly selected within each of the two regionally matched city pairs, with the other cities (Providence, RI; and Columbia, SC) serving as controls. African American adolescents, aged 1417 years (N = 1,710), recruited in the four cities over a 16-month period, completed audio computer-assisted self-interviews at recruitment and again at 3, 6, 12, and 18-months postrecruitment to assess the long-term effects of the media program. To identify the unique effects of the media intervention, youth who completed at least one follow-up and who did not test positive for any of the three sexually transmitted infections at recruitment or at 6-and 12-month follow-up were retained for analysis (N = 1,346). Results: The media intervention reached virtually all the adolescents in the trial and produced a range of effects including improved normative condom-use negotiation expectancies and increased sex refusal self-efficacy. Most importantly, older adolescents (aged 1617 years) exposed to the media program showed a less risky age trajectory of unprotected sex than those in the nonmedia cities. Conclusion: Culturally tailored mass media messages that are delivered consistently over time have the potential to reach a large audience of high-risk adolescents, to support changes in HIV-preventive beliefs, and to reduce HIV-associated risk behaviors among older youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data stem from a cooperative agreement funded by the US National Institute of Mental Health, Office on AIDS, Pim Brouwers, Project Officer. The following sites and investigators contributed to the project: Columbia, SC (MH66802), Robert Valois (PI), Naomi Farber, and Andure Walker; Macon, GA (MH66807), Ralph DiClemente (PI), Laura Salazar, Rachel Joseph, and Angela Caliendo; Philadelphia, PA (MH66809), Daniel Romer (PI), Sharon Sznitman, Bonita Stanton, Michael Hennessy, Ivan Juzang, and Thierry Fortune; Providence, RI (MH66875), Larry Brown (PI), Christie Rizzo, and Rebecca Swenson; Syracuse, NY (MH66794), Peter Vanable (PI), Michael Carey, Rebecca Bostwick, and Jennifer Brown.


  • African American adolescents
  • Condom use
  • Culturally sensitive messages
  • HIV-prevention
  • Mass media interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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