Engaging Young Men as Community Health Leaders in an STI and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania



This article presents lessons learned from a microfinance and health intervention for young men designed to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI) and intimate partner violence (IPV) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We describe the different strategies we used to identify and train young men to become change agents within their social networks.


A cluster-randomized trial with 60 camps was undertaken in the Kinondoni District of Dar es Salaam. A total of 170 members from 30 intervention camps were trained in March 2014 as popular opinion leaders (POLs), whom we call Camp Health Leaders (CHLs). We describe the process of nominating, training, and retaining CHLs. We also describe our monitoring process, which included the collection of weekly diaries assessing topics discussed, number of peers engaged in conversations, reactions of peers, and challenges faced.

Lessons Learned

POLs within naturally existing social networks can be engaged in STI and IPV prevention initiatives. Continuous efforts in retention, such as holding community advisory board (CAB) meetings, developing prevention slogans and t-shirts, and offering small grants to POL teams for intervention activities, were important to keeping POLs engaged in the intervention. Further, booster training sessions were critical to maintain the message of the project and ensure that the challenges POLs face with implementing the programs were addressed in a timely manner.


Recruiting POLs in a Tanzanian urban setting and engaging them in STI and IPV reduction through social networks is possible. Training POLs in health information and interpersonal communication is important. Utilizing booster sessions and a variety of retention strategies for POLs in programs that aim to reduce IPV and STI infections among young men is essential to maintain the health leaders’ engagement in the intervention as well as intervention fidelity.

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This study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) under Award Number R01MH098690: PI, Suzanne Maman. Donaldson Conserve was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under Award Number T32 AI007001 and by NIMH under Award Number K99MH110343. Marta Mulawa was supported by the NIAID under Award Number T32AI007392.


This study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) under Award Number R01MH098690.

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Correspondence to Lusajo J. Kajula.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with ethical standards and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Kajula, L.J., Kilonzo, M.N., Conserve, D.F. et al. Engaging Young Men as Community Health Leaders in an STI and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Glob Soc Welf 6, 259–266 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40609-018-00134-z

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  • Tanzania
  • Young men
  • Opinion leaders
  • IPV
  • STI