Zambian adolescents are at high risk of unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV infection due to early sexual initiation, low use of contraceptives and condoms, and other high-risk sexual behaviors. During 1996–1998, CARE Zambia and the Population Council conducted a study to test community-based approaches to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health. CARE Zambia talked to adolescents in four communities outside Lusaka. Using participatory learning and action techniques, researchers identified factors leading to high-risk sexual behaviors, including lack of economic, recreational, and educational opportunities for youth. This information helped to design the study. Two interventions—condom distribution by peer educators and small business loans to youth—led to safer sexual practices among adolescents in peri-urban communities. Both program participants and their peers reported an increase in abstinence and monogamy and a decrease in STIs. As noted in this brief, youth in the intervention areas were better informed about ways to prevent HIV/AIDS than those in the control group, however the interventions did not lead to greater use of contraception or condoms for dual protection.
"Zambia: Peer educators can promote safer sex behaviors," FRONTIERS OR Summary. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2001.
Frontiers in Reproductive Health