Safer Choices

Safer Choices is a two-year, school-based, HIV/STI and teen pregnancy prevention program with the primary goal of reducing unprotected sexual intercourse by encouraging abstinence and, among students who report having sex, encouraging condom use. The program seeks to modify:

  • HIV/STI knowledge;
  • Attitudes and norms about abstinence and condom use as well as barriers to condom use;
  • Students’ belief in their ability to refuse sex and avoid unprotected sex, use condoms, and communicate with partners about safer sex;
  • Perceptions of risk for infection with HIV or other STIs; and
  • Communication with parents.

Based on social cognitive theory, social influences theory, and models of social change, Safer Choices is a high school program that includes:

  1. A school health protection council;
  2. The curriculum;
  3. Peer club or team to sponsor school-wide activities;
  4. Parenting education; and
  5. Links between schools and community-based services.
  6. In some schools, programs also incorporate an HIV-positive speaker.

The program is delivered in 20 sequential sessions, divided evenly between ninth and 10th grades. Parents receive a newsletter and participate in some student-parent homework assignments. School-community links center on activities to enhance students’ familiarity with and access to support services in the community. Each year of the program, schools implement activities across all five components.