To meet the comprehensive
needs of runaway youths between 11 and 18 years of age, this program combines
20 small group discussion sessions with case management and private counseling.
The group sessions provide general instruction about HIV/AIDS through video and
art workshops in which youth create their own educational materials and review
commercially available videos. Participants also receive behavioral and cognitive
skills training for coping with high-risk situations. The case management and
counseling components are designed to identify individual needs and provide youth
with appropriate services (e.g., legal, medical, vocational). A field study of
the program was conducted at two urban shelters serving predominantly
African-American runaways. The sessions were held over a three week period, but
youth joined the program at various points, and their levels of participation
varied. For runaways who attended at least fifteen sessions, the high-risk
pattern of sexual behavior dropped in frequency from 20% to zero over a six-month
period. At the two-year follow-up assessment, program effects remained strongest
for male and African-American participants.
This program can be implemented
in a variety of community-based programs serving high-risk youths, especially
runaways, providing that case management and counseling services are available. It is
also appropriate for residential treatment programs.
The original sample included
78 youths, ages 11 to 18 (avg.=15.5 years). 64% of participants were female.
63% African-American, 22% Latino, 8% White, 7% other.
In addition to ongoing counseling
and care management services, the full intervention includes 20 group sessions, held
over a three-week period. Each session is designed to last 90 to 120 minutes.
(with approximately 10 youths) are facilitated by two leaders, preferably
one male and one female, and from diverse backgrounds. Participating
teens may also split into male and female groups, with same sex leaders,
as warranted. Training should include the cognitive-behavioral approach
to HIV/AIDS risk reduction and practice sessions. Master's level psychologists
or social workers are recommended to serve as group leaders; other
professional staff (e.g., lawyers, vocational counselors) should be
on call to provide necessary services.