What's Happening

Check out what our people and partners are researching, thinking, reading, writing, watching and doing!

(Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETR as an agency.)

The Gift: Inspiration
July 28, 2017
The Gift: Inspiration

By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | July 28, 2017
Senior Editor, ETR

A couple of days ago, I spent some time with ETR's 2017 Kirby interns. What an extraordinary group! This year's interns all bring international background and deep experience to their time at ETR.

The group has given me a healthy dose of inspiration. 

(And that fun photo shows Lisa Unti, ETR Research Associate and general internship mentor, Love Odetola, Dharmit Shelat and Selah Agaba.)

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Tags: Kirby internship, International health, Global health, Mentoring
Disrupting What You Think You Know: Sex and the Teen Brain
December 19, 2016
Disrupting What You Think You Know: Sex and the Teen Brain

By Karin Coyle, PhD | December 19, 2016
Senior Research Associate, ETR

ETR is delighted to announce the release of our report on the 2016 Kirby Summit. If you work with adolescents to address sexual and reproductive health, I strongly encourage you to check it out.

Here’s why. We deliberately designed this invited Summit to challenge and disrupt what we thought we knew about adolescent health behaviors.

Report on the 2016 Kirby Summit

Peterson AJ, Coyle KK, Guinosso SA, Christopher DE, and Charles VE. Sex and the teen brain: Disrupting what we think we know. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR Associates, 2016. 

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Tags: Research, Kirby Summit, Adolescents, Risk reduction, Neurodevelopment, Sexual and reproductive health, Neuroscience
Currently Exploring: Answers—and Questions—About PrEP
September 6, 2016
Currently Exploring: Answers—and Questions—About PrEP

By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | September 6, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR

In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved oral Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis of HIV (PrEP). In a very short period of time, PrEP has substantially changed the HIV prevention landscape. It’s effective (when taken) and has an excellent safety profile.

How well is it working in different populations? I took a quick dive into some recent reports to get an update.

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Tags: HIV, HIV / AIDS, HIV prevention, PrEP
“But Those Teens Don’t Look Like Us”: Adapting Video Content for Evidence-Based Programs
August 31, 2016
“But Those Teens Don’t Look Like Us”: Adapting Video Content for Evidence-Based Programs

By Joan Singson and Suzanne Schrag | August 31, 2016
Program Manager and Editor/Product Manager, ETR

Do you like stories? Most people do, and, like Peter Seller’s character in Being There, “We like to watch.” Many of the evidence-based programs (EBPs) being used across the country, including many that ETR distributes, incorporate DVDs. Videos can be a useful and engaging strategy to hold participants’ attention, encourage fruitful discussions and allow youth to personalize information by relating to the characters’ stories and situations.

One of the most frequent questions we get concerning program adaptations relates to videos—in particular, whether videos can be left out or replaced with other videos. Often the question arises when facilitators do not think the included videos are representative of the youth they serve.

Here are some options to consider (and to discuss with program officers) when thinking about adaptations around videos.

Free Webinar for OAH TPP Grantees and other youth-serving professionals using ETR’s evidence-based programs 

Sign up for our free webinar, ETR Evidence-Based Programs Revisions Booster. This one-hour event will review recent revisions to our EBPs and answer questions. Wednesday, September 21, 10:00–11:00 am Pacific Standard Time. Learn more and register here.

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Tags: Evidence-based interventions, Adaptation, Videos
Youth Who Puzzle Us: Recent Work in Neuroscience Explains Why
August 29, 2016
Youth Who Puzzle Us: Recent Work in Neuroscience Explains Why

By Vignetta Charles, PhD | August 29, 2016
Chief Science Officer, ETR

Do you work with adolescents? Have you ever faced situations like these?

Sofia is an excellent student, popular on campus and a delightful member of your peer health educator program. She knows everything about birth control, STI prevention and making smart choices. She loves educating her peers. She and her boyfriend come to see you one afternoon and tell you they are pregnant.

Webinar: Survive or Thrive? Re-Envisioning Adolescent Success

We recently collaborated with the California School Based Health Alliance on a webinar describing and applying the new insights in developmental neuroscience. Our goal is to re-think and re-envision how we educate, raise and care for young people on their path to lifelong health and wellbeing. You can find links to the webinar recording and slides ("Survive or Thrive? Using Neuroscience to Re-Envision Adolescent Success") and information about other upcoming CSBHA webinars here.

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Tags: Neurodevelopment, Neuroscience, Teens, Risk reduction
Including LGBTQ Youth in Pregnancy Prevention: How to Make It Work
August 25, 2016
Including LGBTQ Youth in Pregnancy Prevention: How to Make It Work

By Cassidey Streber, MA | August 25, 2016
Program Coordinator, Youth Services of Tulsa, Adolescent Health/PregNOT

A student I’ll call Shay came in and sat at the back of my classroom. It was the first class meeting. Other students came bounding in, adding a bit of lively chaos to the mix.

I surveyed the students as they settled and we got started. I took note of Shay in particular. Shoulders up. Sighing. Arms crossed. Uncrossed. Looking out the window. Scribbling on a piece of paper. Not interacting with other students. Not looking at me. Not really there.

And then, as we got into the lesson, something happened. Shay sat up and began to watch me. Eyes furrowed, then a smile, then—amazingly—a question and comment from this student. Shay had become part of the class and was engaged in the lesson.

I know exactly what brought Shay into the process. In my language and the activities I brought to the class, I was offering a setting that was inclusive, authentic and safe for students of any sexual identity or gender. Shay, a student from the LGBTQ community, experienced the class as relevant and welcoming.

Webinar from OAH on LGBTQ Inclusivity

Cassidey Streber was one of the presenters in a recent webinar hosted by the Office of Adolescent Health. It is called, “How to Make it Happen: LGBTQ Inclusivity.” You can find links to the slides, audio recording and written transcript here. (Scroll down to June 2, 2016.)

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Tags: LGBTQ youth, Inclusivity, Pregnancy prevention, Sexual and reproductive health
What Educators Need to Know About Online Sex Trafficking
August 23, 2016
What Educators Need to Know About Online Sex Trafficking

By Pamela Anderson, PhD, and Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | August 23, 2016    
Senior Research Associate and Senior Editor, ETR

First published on the Psychology Benefits Society blog of the American Psychological Association.

What comes to mind when you hear the words “sex trafficking”?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might think of a sinister alley in a foreign country serving as the local red light district. Or you might imagine a woman who comes to the U.S. with hopes of a better life for herself and her family who is then forced to sell her body to pay debt bondage. Maybe you think of a young woman violently forced by a hated pimp to work the streets.

While all of these images do constitute forms of sex trafficking, they barely begin to tell the story. And as these disturbing pictures run through our minds, few of us add to our list the children and teens in our own communities. We aren’t likely to think of the students in our classrooms as they navigate the Internet or check their social network sites.

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Tags: Human trafficking, Technology, Sexual and reproductive health, Sexual violence prevention, Violence prevention
Measuring Consistency of Contraception Use Over Time Among Teen Mothers
July 19, 2016
Measuring Consistency of Contraception Use Over Time Among Teen Mothers

By ETR | July 19, 2016
Note: We're posting about some of the presentations ETR researchers and professional development specialists are offering at the Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantee Conference July 19-21.

Teen parents face a number of challenges. When a teen mother has a rapid repeat birth—a second (or more) child before age 20—the challenges become even greater. Almost 1 in 5 teen births is a repeat birth, and only about 1 in 5 sexually active teen mothers use the most effective birth control methods.

For the past 6 years, ETR researcher Pam Drake, PhD, has been collaborating with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine on a project designed to support teen parents and prevent unintended repeat births. One strategy in the project is to increase the use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). These contraceptives, including IUDs and hormonal implants, are the most effective available today, and are safe for most women, including adolescents.

On Wednesday, July 20, Dr. Drake and co-presenters Mona Desai, MPH, Leslie Clark, PhD and Vivian Okonta, all from CHLA, are offering a poster describing how they measured the consistency of contraception use over time with the teen mothers participating in their project.

Pamela Drake, Mona Desai. Measurement Consistency of Contraception Use Over Time Among Teen Mothers. Wednesday, 7/20/16, 3:30-5:00 p.m. Poster #210 in the Evaluation Section, East Foyer of the Key Ballroom.

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Tags: Evaluation, OAH TPP, Pregnancy prevention, Teen moms, Adolescent health, Sexual and reproductive health
Memory and Learning: A Formula for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Impact!
July 18, 2016
Memory and Learning: A Formula for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Impact!

By ETR | July 18, 2016
Note: We're posting about some of the presentations ETR researchers and professional development specialists are offering at the Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantee Conference, July 19-20.

Learned anything new lately? Your brain is being bombarded by massive amounts of information every minute—sights, sounds, words, smells, sensations. What happens to all of that info? Thankfully, most of it is forgotten. Your brain takes a look at it and decides what to ignore and when to pay attention.

If you’re an implementer working with teens to build healthy skills for pregnancy prevention, you’ve got critical messages and skills you want these learners to attend to. What should you do? Use amazing brain science to make learning stick!

Debra Christopher, MSM and Tracy Wright, MAED. Memory and Learning: A Formula for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Impact! Wednesday 7/20/16, 3:30-5:00 p.m. Poster #107 in the Program Delivery & Improvement Section, East Foyer of the Key Ballroom.
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Tags: Learning, Memory, Neuroscience, Pregnancy prevention, Adolescent health, OAH TPP
New Research: Keys to Understanding Adolescent Romantic Relationships
May 9, 2016
New Research: Keys to Understanding Adolescent Romantic Relationships

By Thao Ha, PhD | May 9, 2016
Assistant Research Professor, Arizona State University

Know any teens who’ve fallen in love lately? Chances are that you do. Most teenagers have been in love or have been involved in a serious romantic relationship by age 18 (Carver, Joyner & Udry). While teens often do not share their romantic experiences with adults, those of us working with adolescents—educators, health providers, researchers, community workers—need the best understanding possible of young people’s romantic relationships. Specific points before, during and after a relationship can create vulnerabilities in adolescents’ lives.

Romantic relationships offer teens wonderful opportunities to pursue some positive developmental tasks. But when things go wrong in a teen’s relationship, there is a potential to trigger a range of problems. These moments may also offer adults an entry into adolescents’ world at a time when our support can be invaluable. 

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Tags: Romantic relationships, Adolescents, Mental health, Risk reduction
Parent Power: Get Sex Ed Out of the Closet!
April 14, 2016
Parent Power: Get Sex Ed Out of the Closet!

By Barb Flis | April 14, 2016
Founder, Parent Action for Healthy Kids

Are parents resisting comprehensive sex education in our schools? They’re certainly taking the rap for this. I still wonder why this is so when the polar opposite is true—parents are far more likely to be allies and advocates.

Too often, when it comes to sex ed, we fear parents rather than embrace them. I’d like to suggest a re-frame. Parents can be powerful people when we need support for effective sex education in schools. 

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Tags: K-12, Parents, Sex education
Training Educators and Service Providers on Transgender Issues
February 8, 2016
Training Educators and Service Providers on Transgender Issues

By Luca Maurer, MS, CSE, CFLE | February 8, 2016
Director, The Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services at Ithaca College

Transgender people are in our families, our communities, our workplaces, our faith communities and our schools. They are part of the fabric of our society. Yet stigma and discrimination can make it extraordinarily difficult for transgender people to make their way in the world, and for everyone to learn accurate information about the lives and experiences of transgender people.

Professional development and training can play a vital role in preparing educators and providers to offer the best possible services to transgender people. By extension, better services can be offered to their families, and, ultimately to entire communities and our society as a whole. Training can also prepare us to be more effective in our professional (and often our personal) roles.

The effort is well worth it! 

Luca Maurer is the coauthor, along with Eli R. Green, PhD, of The Teaching Transgender Toolkit, a collection of resources and lesson plans for teaching transgender-related information to a variety of audiences, including high school and college students, educational professionals, medical and social service providers, community groups and faith communities. The toolkit enables facilitators and trainers to provide the most accurate and effective practical training, toward the goal of increasing awareness, empathy and skills.

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Tags: LGBTQ, Professional development, Transgender issues
USCA 2015: The Numbers Don't Lie. End the Disparities!
September 17, 2015
USCA 2015: The Numbers Don't Lie. End the Disparities!

By Jacqueline Peters | September 17, 2015
Administrative Specialist & Trainer, ETR

The last time I was in DC was in the mid-nineties. Four presidents and two generations later, I found myself heading to the nation’s capital for the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). I would be representing ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Program (CISP) in our booth and around the conference.

I am new to the world of AIDS service and prevention, and this was my first foray into a national conference focused entirely on HIV/AIDS. I was excited. I was nervous. I was curious.

I was ready for USCA 2015.

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Tags: Community Impact Solutions Project, HIV / AIDS, Conference
HIV and Older Adults: 6 Steps to Building Better Awareness
September 3, 2015
HIV and Older Adults: 6 Steps to Building Better Awareness

By Tanya Henderson, PhD | September 3, 2015
Project Director, Community Impact Solutions Program, ETR

September 18 is the 8th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). NHAAAD focuses on the challenging issues facing the aging population regarding HIV prevention, testing, care and treatment

The campaign, spearheaded by The AIDS Institute, seeks to:

  • Reach people living with HIV/AIDS who are either aging with the disease or over 50 at the time of their initial diagnosis.
  • Increase the use of protection from HIV infection, especially among the baby boomer population (people born from 1946 to 1964; they are now between 51 and 70 years of age).
  • Support the increasing number of grandparents becoming primary guardians for children who have lost their parent(s) to HIV/AIDS.

At ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Program, we think it’s also important for everyone of every age to understand the message that unsafe practices can put anyone at risk for HIV. Whether you’re young or old, your age will not protect you.

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Tags: HIV / AIDS, Older adults, NHAAAD, Community Impact Solutions Project
Sex Ed in America—the Good News
August 13, 2015
Sex Ed in America—the Good News

Suzanne Schrag | August 13, 2015
Editor/Product Manager, ETR

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on Sex Education has certainly been getting some air play around the country, as well as here at the ETR offices. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s well worth watching. (Note: Language may not be suitable for work—use your headphones just in case.)

Oliver points out the glaring inconsistencies in what young people in the United States are being—and not being—taught about sex. He offers up a very funny video at the end of the segment that would truly be a huge improvement to many of those that have been shown in sex ed classrooms across the U.S.

There’s plenty of bite, of course, in pointing out what’s not working, or what’s just plain wrong, about sexuality education in this country. But what is the best way to give kids the straight-up facts in a manner that will actually shape their choices and influence their behaviors?

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Tags: Sex education, Sexual and reproductive health, Pregnancy prevention, STD prevention
Taking the Stigma Out of Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood: What Schools Can Do
July 28, 2015
Taking the Stigma Out of Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood: What Schools Can Do

By Brittany D. Chambers, MPH, CHES | July 28, 2015
Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina, Greensboro | 2014 Kirby Summer Intern, ETR

When you think about adolescent pregnancy, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Most people think about the negative issues.

Research shows that adolescent pregnancy alone is not the cause of these factors. Why, then, do the majority of prevention efforts use “victim blaming” approaches to address the issue? 

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Tags: Teen moms, Teen parents, Pregnancy prevention, Stigma
Affirmative Consent: Shifting the Culture
July 20, 2015
Affirmative Consent: Shifting the Culture

By Gina Lepore MEd | July 20, 2015
Research Associate, ETR

Yes means Yes. Yes, I want you. Yes, I want this. Yes, I want to be here. Yes, I am consciously choosing this now. Yes, I respect your boundaries. Yes, I will ask if I am in doubt. More, please!

Last September, California became the first state to pass legislation that sets a new standard for sexual consent on college campuses receiving state funding for financial aid. This legislative act followed policy changes on consent at several universities across the country. Systems have continued to adopt affirmative consent standards, including the State University of New York (SUNY) system

Although considerable progress has been made in recent years in supporting survivors of assault, the same is not true when it comes to changing attitudes and beliefs about the abusive approach to sex that causes assault in the first place.

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Tags: Affirmative consent, Violence prevention, Sexual and reproductive health, College health
News Both Heartening & Chilling: UN Meets Goal to Treat 15 Million for HIV
July 15, 2015
News Both Heartening & Chilling: UN Meets Goal to Treat 15 Million for HIV

By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | July 15, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR

Yesterday, I heard that the United Nations had met their goal to treat 15 million people with HIV before the end of 2015. Officials were pleased to have reached this point early. The report also mentioned drops in the number of new cases and reductions in worldwide deaths from HIV.

There’s actually all kinds of encouraging news about the HIV epidemic. More people are accessing treatment, people with HIV are living longer, cases among children are down by 58%, tuberculosis-related deaths among people with HIV are down, and investments in prevention and treatment are up.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says we are on our way to an AIDS-free generation, and we can end the epidemic by 2030.

Like many others in the health care and prevention education worlds, this kind of news feels personal to me. 

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Tags: HIV / AIDS, HIV treatment, High impact prevention, Community Impact Solutions Project
HPV Vaccine: What About the Boys?
June 22, 2015
HPV Vaccine: What About the Boys?

By William Spatafora | June 22, 2015
MPH Student, Tulane University | 2015 Kirby Summer Intern, ETR

“Why? He’s a boy.”

These were the first  words out of my cousin’s mouth last month when I asked if her 12-year-old son had been vaccinated against HPV. “Isn’t the HPV vaccine given just to girls, to protect against cervical cancer?”

This is a common belief among parents—that HPV only poses a cancer risk for girls. The CDC, however, recommends girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV at age 11 or 12 (and, for those who miss that window, up to age 21 for males and 26 for females, or 26 for men who have sex with men).

Why would there be such a gap in beliefs about HPV vaccination for girls compared to boys?

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Tags: HPV, HPV vaccine, Vaccine, Public health, Gender, Kirby internship
STI? STD? What's the Difference?
June 17, 2015
STI? STD? What's the Difference?

By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | June 18, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR

If your work involves talking to people about sexual health, you must be talking to them about STDs. Or STIs. Or both. Right?

As the great STD-STI terminology challenge continues, just about everyone has had to choose one term or the other. Well, everyone except for the people who use both interchangeably to mean the same thing. Or those folks who use each in distinct ways to mean different things.

I asked a few of my ETR colleagues to share their current thinking and preferred term for their work. Here’s what they had to say. 

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Tags: STDs, Terminology
"Shocking" News: Pregnancy More Likely in LGB Teens!
May 28, 2015
"Shocking" News: Pregnancy More Likely in LGB Teens!

By Annika Shore, MPH | May 28, 2015
Professional Development Consultant, ETR

A study has recently come out that has everyone in my field talking. I’ve seen posts about it in newsletters and blogs about it on social media. Announcements were made in all my professional networks. This new study shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual teens are more likely to experience a pregnancy than their heterosexual counterparts.

I was happy to see that this new research was getting people in my community talking about an issue I care deeply about. However, this is not new information. This research confirms something we have known for many years and is not, in fact, “shocking.”

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Tags: Sexual and reproductive health, Professional development, Pregnancy prevention, LGBTQ
"There Is an American Indian Working in This Section!" - Honoring National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
March 17, 2015
Honoring National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Karen L. Parker-Simons | March 17, 2015
Health Education Coordinator, Florida Department of Health

I began working in HIV/AIDS Prevention in February 2007. At the time I had never heard of World AIDS Day, never mind National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. That first year it slipped by me without my catching it.

But, by 2008, I finally knew about it. National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is something very special. This wasn’t just another awareness day for which I would have to think up events. No, this day spoke TO me—it was ABOUT me! I am an American Indian from the Dumna/Kechayi Yokuts Tribe of California. Not only could I loudly proclaim to everyone in my Department, “Hey! Know what? There is an American Indian working in this section!” I could also take a very important message to the communities I knew and loved. 

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Tags: HIV / AIDS, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Tribal nations, Community Impact Solutions Project
HIV Treatment: Keeping People in Care
March 12, 2015
HIV Treatment: Keeping People in Care

By BA Laris, MPH | March 12, 2015
Research Associate, ETR

In recent years, there has been a major shift in the way we approach HIV treatment and prevention. Research has shown (for example, see Gardner’s 2011 report here; and the AIDS.gov background here) that we will have our greatest impact when we focus on two major steps.

  1. Locate individuals at greatest risk for HIV and motivate them to get tested.
  2. Connect with individuals who have HIV and provide support for them to start and stay in HIV-related medical treatment.

These are deceptively simple prescriptions. But if you work in HIV care and treatment settings, you know there are a myriad of physical, social and emotional issues that can make it difficult for people to stay engaged in continuous treatment. This challenge is one that our Community Impact Solutions team addresses in our work providing capacity building for community-based organizations. We develop strategies and deliver coaching and support to strengthen HIV programs. Our approaches are both research proven and real-world practical.

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Tags: Professional development, High impact prevention, Evidence-based interventions, Retention, Community Impact Solutions Project, HIV / AIDS
Optimizing Skill Instruction in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education
March 3, 2015
Optimizing Skill Instruction in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education

By Karin Coyle, PhD | March 3, 2015
Senior Research Scientist, ETR

Most evidence-based sexual health programs include skill development as a core element. This underscores the value of optimizing instruction for skills. Education literature provides guidance on the optimal instructional sequence for teaching behavioral skills. There are a number of other important considerations for skill instruction that compliment this type of instructional sequence, and some common pitfalls to avoid.

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Tags: Pregnancy prevention, STD prevention, Evidence-based interventions, Health education, Sexual and reproductive health
Social Network Strategy: Turning the Tables on HIV
February 25, 2015
Social Network Strategy: Turning the Tables on HIV

By Joan Singson | February 25, 2015
Program Manager, ETR

I used to walk in and out of drab motels and dive bars in the middle of the night, distributing condoms and encouraging people to test for HIV. Yup! Been there, done that. The strategies we used to help reduce the spread of HIV in the early 1990’s were not for the faint of heart.

Those of us who were involved back when old school was hip hop and Wu-Tang-Clan was the bomb could probably rattle off a hundred ways to recruit individuals for HIV counseling, testing and referral. Organizations were motivated by the message that “anyone can get HIV,” and funding streams asked them to cast a wide net and bring in as many individuals as possible for testing.

Since then, the business of recruitment has evolved.

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Tags: HIV / AIDS, Evidence-based interventions, Professional development, Community Impact Solutions Project, High impact prevention