Purpose: Half of all new HIV infections occur in young people 25 and younger. Additionally, 25% of sexually experienced adolescents become infected with an STD each year. Certain minority groups are at particularly high risk, as the teen birth rate for Latinx and African Americans are three times higher than the white teen birth rates. Few validated gender- specific curriculum are available especially for males. This study presents the results of a RCT to evaluate the impact of the Guy Talk a gender-specific prevention program that emphasizes sexual risk reduction among a predominately Latinx adolescent population.
Method: Subjects were randomized to either a prevention group or a no treatment control group. The effectiveness of the intervention was analyzed over the 3-month follow-up period. To compare differences in the outcome variables (i.e., condom technical skills, we used a repeated measures analysis of variance. Effect size estimates (Cohen’s d, d = M1 – M2 / spooled ) were calculated on the scores.
Study participant recruitment included self-identified males 14-17 years old. The program was administered as an after-school program and the school sites for the study represented low-income areas (large Latinx population) where it was determined the intervention would have the largest impact.
580 adolescents enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to study conditions. Assignment to study conditions used a random allocation sequence that was conducted by the research staff. Trained facilitators delivered the gender-specific program that focused on the healthy psychosocial development of adolescent males to the intervention group. The program included content consisting of developmental tasks critical for the healthy psychosocial development of adolescent males: 1) understanding gender-role expectations; 2) managing emotions and feelings; 3) building positive peer groups, friendships, and leadership skills; 4) managing relationships; 5) establishing independence through responsible decision making; 6) understanding healthy sexuality (including obtaining consent); 7) learning to obtain help and access resources; and 8) developing life skills for the future. Outcome measures included condom technical skills, beliefs about condoms, sexual consent, social skills, attitudes toward women, perceptions of masculinity, and sexual control. All measures had acceptable reliability.
Results: Baseline equivalence was verified. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed significant time x group interactions on condom technical skills (p <.001), attitudes toward women (p <.07), social skills (p <.001), peer assertiveness (p <.001) and attitudes toward consent ((p <.10).
Conclusions and Implications: This study found that Guy Talk, a gender-specific program, produced several positive outcomes among adolescent males on indicators of sexual risk reduction. The implementation of this program discovered that males were interested and motivated to participate in this program, and as a result, male-specific programs may have the potential to reach a larger population and contribute to sexual risk reduction. Also, such programs may extend their impact on related objectives such as obtaining proper consent, promoting health relationships with others, and challenging negative male stereotypes.
The current study adds to the existing literature of gender-specific randomized clinical trials for adolescent males, an understudied group.