Educational programs and in-school discussion forums are essential components for addressing the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. Sexually active adolescents can greatly benefit from a better understanding of the disease and how its spread can be prevented. Yet, how successful such initiatives are at actually reducing risky sexual behaviors, particularly within underserved, impoverished communities, remains an open question. The present study aims to add to the relatively sparse data regarding HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes among inner-city African-American students, a population typically at higher risk for transmission of the disease. Through weekly group discussions held at a Chicago-area alternative high school, we sought to describe, understand, and investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the students’ knowledge about HIV/AIDS, including crucial aspects such as the disease’s etiology, routes of transmission, and prognosis following infection. By opting to employ a more qualitative methodology, we hoped to provide descriptive information that could be useful to future researchers looking for information on how to best tailor effective educational interventions with this population.
Key words: HIV, educational intervention, urban adolescents, qualitative.
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