A peer-led AIDS prevention program for students in an alternative school.
School-based programs designed to measure health risk behavior and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have not addressed adequately the needs of adolescents outside of main-stream schools. In Florida, these youth represent a sizable proportion of the population and have been shown to be at increased risk for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and human immunodeficiency virus. This article describes a peer-led STD/HIV intervention for students in a dropout prevention program in Dade Country, Florida. Trained peer counselor/educators (PCEs) led schoolwide activities and classroom sessions covering STD/HIV information, community health resources, communication and negotiation skills, and safer sex strategies. Teachers and students rated the PCEs effective in promoting discussion and serving as sources of information about AIDS and community health resources. Pre/post intervention questionaire results demonstrated an increase in AIDS awareness and discussion among students as well as an increase in condom use. Based on this social influences approach, peer education appears to be a promising health education strategy for students in dropout prevention programs.