Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to AIDS, is a significant health problem worldwide. Cases of HIV/AIDS are increasing among younger people from 13 to 30 years of age. The key to defeating HIV lies with prevention. Educational programs must reach and convince young people to reduce unsafe sexual practices.
Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the NINR Hampton-Penn Center to Reduce Health Disparities, has spent many years in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention. Among her research ventures in this field have been educational programs that delivered information on sexual abstinence and safe-sex practices to inner-city black middle school students. Based on the success of those programs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has used them as models, and Dr. Jemmott was invited to South Africa to help decrease HIV/AIDS there.
"For the past 15 years, I have observed how the HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately impacted the African American community," says Dr. Jemmott. "I became convinced that the incidence could be reduced if people changed their sexual behaviors. Our research has demonstrated remarkable success in reducing HIV risk-associated sexual behaviors among African American adolescents and adults."