Applications in Bridging the Gap: A Community-Campus Partnership to Address Sexual Health Disparities Among African-American Youth in the South
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Risky sexual behavior among African-American youth increases risks for sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. This article describes a community-academic partnership to assess The 2 HYPE Abstinence Club, a program combining abstinence education with stress management and creative arts promotion for African-American youth ages 12–18. Bi-directional learning and communication systems were established to facilitate culturally relevant evaluation approaches, quality assurance in data collection, and action-based protocols for on-going improvement. Assessment tools included self-administered surveys and focus groups to gauge intervention effectiveness and perceptions regarding abstinence, sexual peer norms and intervention characteristics. Statistically significant increases in the understanding of abstinence benefits and sexual activity risks were observed and youth identified goal-setting and refusal skills as most important program components. Youth-instructor relationships and the integration of hip-hop were reasons cited for sustained participation. This assessment partnership represents a rapport with minority youth and a participatory evaluation approach adding programmatic and evidence-based value to intervention efforts.