International AIDS Society


Promoting abstinence: lessons from four countries over four years

P. Purcell1, E. Gwan2

Background: Mobilizing Youth for Life (MYFL) is an abstinence and behavior change program of World Relief targeting youth in four countries over five years, funded by USAID and the President´s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Started in 2004, to date more than 1.8 million youth and those who influence them in Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, and Rwanda have been reached. Built on the transtheoretical model of behavior change, the program engages youth through interactive training and encourages abstinence before marriage and mutual faithfulness within marriage as a means to protect against HIV. To understand components of impact and to propose recommendations for improvement, World Relief conducted a midterm evaluation in all four countries between May and September, 2007.
Methods: A survey and 63 focus group discussions were held in 10 program sites across the four countries. Field staff were fully involved in planning and executing the evaluation which engaged 556 program participants including 192 youth beneficiaries, 192 peer educators, and 172 youth influencers.
Results: Emergent themes reported by youth beneficiaries and youth influencers included a commitment to abstinence, partner reduction, improved school performance, and identification and reporting of sexual abuse. Youth report that the lessons on self-esteem and making good choices were pivotal to the program impact in their lives. The decision to commit to abstinence was influenced when they saw couples who reported being abstinent navigate to a successful transition to marriage.
Conclusions: Large scale abstinence programs may positively impact reported HIV prevention behaviors when addressed through positive role models and deal with foundational issues of self-esteem and peer support.

AIDS 2008 - XVII International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. CDC0686

Suggested Citation
"P.Purcell, et al. Promoting abstinence: lessons from four countries over four years. : AIDS 2008 - XVII International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. CDC0686"