Sex and HIV education programs: Their impact on sexual behaviours of young people throughout the world

Kirby, D.
Laris, B.
Rolleri, L.
Publisher: 
Journal of Adolescent Health
Publication date: 
January 2007

What are the best practices and strategies for schools to improve sexual behaviour among youth? To contribute to this evidence, this article systematically reviewed 83 studies from both developed and developing countries that measured the impact of school-based sex and HIV education programs on sexual behaviour among youth under 25. The authors examined the characteristics of programs that have successfully changed behaviours including STD behaviours and pregnancy rates, and knowledge and attitudes that affect those behaviours.

Studies included were those from 1990s onwards that demonstrated an impact using a strong experimental or quasi-experimental design with both intervention groups, and using pre-test and post-test data collection. Studies using different measures of the same outcomes of behaviour, different time periods, and different subsamples were included to provide a balanced view of results.

The authors identified 17 characteristics that described selected programs, which were divided into the process of developing the curriculum, the contents of the curriculum itself and the implementation of the curriculum. These characteristics can be used to assess, select, adapt, improve, develop and implement curricula. The authors also identified limitations of the reviewed studies including not adequately describing the programs, problems with implementation, weak designs and measurement, and rarely measuring the impact on STD and pregnancy rates, especially using biomarkers. Despite such limitations, the authors noted that two thirds of the reviewed programs had significant impacts on young people’s behaviours including delayed or reduced sexual activity or increased contraception use. The authors provide concrete recommendations to increase the rigour and value of such studies.

Journal: 
Journal of Adolescent Health 40.3: 206-217
Citation: 
Kirby, D.; Laris, B.; and Rolleri, L. (2007) ‘Sex and HIV education programs: Their impact on sexual behaviors of young people throughout the world’, Journal of Adolescent Health 40.3: 206-217.
Access: 
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