Respeto/Proteger (Respecting and Protecting Our Relationships), an HIV prevention program targeting young Latino parents with children who are at least three months old, was added to the list of evidence-based programs that reduce teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections and associated sexual risk behaviors.
Fifty percent of new HIV infections worldwide occur in people 25 and younger. HIV disproportionately affects ethnic/racial minorities and women and most cases are acquired through sexual transmission.
“Young, inner-city Latino parents are at risk for acquiring HIV due to a combination of factors – childhood poverty, social oppression, community violence and social isolation,” said Janna Lesser, Ph.D., RN, who led the study during her post-doctoral work at UCLA and is currently an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s School of Nursing. “These behaviors can lead to early initiation of unprotected sexual relationships, relationship violence and substance abuse.”
Respeto/Proteger is a six-session, 12-hour HIV prevention program presented to small groups of couples in community and clinic settings. Couples are defined as individuals who have been involved in a romantic relationship for at least three months; the male partner is not required to be the child’s biological father.
“The program was based on findings that showed that young men and women are willing to make profound changes in their lives when they become parents,” said Deborah Koniak-Griffin, R.N.C., Ed.D., F.A.N.N., director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations Research at the UCLA’s School of Nursing. “The curriculum integrates basic information about HIV awareness and prevention with culturally relevant discussions and activities on taking responsibility for your actions and being a role model.”
Development of Respeto/Proteger was initially supported through a collaborative community partnership grant from the California HIV/AIDS Research Program and subsequently evaluated through a federally-funded clinical trial. Based on a comprehensive review by Mathematica Policy Research and its partner, Child Trends, Respeto/Proteger met the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ established criteria to be classified an evidence-based model. The curriculum was designed and evaluated by Koniak-Griffin, Lesser and Jerry Tello, director NLFFI.
Respeto/Proteger is the third program developed by UCLA’s School of Nursing that was recognized as a model program by the Department of Health and Human Services. The list is compiled by the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA, which is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable, provides leadership and financial support to health care providers in every state and U.S. territory, and its grantees provide health care to uninsured people, those living with HIV/AIDS and pregnant women, mothers and children. It periodically publishes lists of community health initiatives that it deems as evidence-based models that have proven to enhance the health or quality of care for at-risk populations.
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