Behavioral interventions to prevent STIs

Program basics

  • Behavioral interventions that aim to improve healthy sexual behavior through individual-level, group-level, and community-level programming.
  • Interventions at all levels are usually educational and include training and support.
  • Community-level interventions often focus both on sharing information and changing social norms within the target community.

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced incidence of STIs
  • Reduced high-risk sexual behavior
  • Increased condom use
  • Increased knowledge of STIs and prevention techniques

Keys to successful implementation

  • In addition to helping prevent STIs, programs should provide testing and treatment to those who might have contracted an STD. Strategies include distributing at-home testing kits, providing information on nearby testing centers, prescribing medication, conducting contact tracing, offering physical and mental wellness options, etc.
  • Interventions using multiple sessions are likely to see more behavioral change than single-session programs.
  • Interventions that work on skill building (negotiating and practicing safer sex, communicating with partners) are also likely to show better results in the long-term.
  • Partnerships with community organizations (schools, colleges, community centers, recreational activity centers etc) can help provide supportive learning environments for young adults.
  • Having medical professionals interact with program participants can help provide substantive advice and dispel myths and preconceived notions about STIs and reinforcement on prevention techniques.
  • Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of the topics involved, staff training is one of the most important components of these interventions. Staff training can be conducted via conferences, workshops, structured courses and training modules and online materials.
  • Programs should seek to reduce stigma of sexual activity and STIs. Stigma is often viewed as one of the primary barriers to program participation.
  • Programs should be delivered by culturally competent providers, and content should be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

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