Behavioral interventions to prevent STIs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help residents access health services. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • 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.

Evidence and impacts


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

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

Best practices in 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.