As national education programs incorporate HIV prevention into school curricula, policymakers and educators need to know what they can expect from these initiatives. An evaluation study conducted in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, provides important insights into whether learners that participated in a fact-based, interactive course had more knowledge about HIV risks, prevention, and care practices; more positive attitudes toward prevention practices and people living with HIV and AIDS; and a higher prevalence of reported safe behaviors than comparable learners who did not participate in the course.The Medical Research Council of South Africa and the Horizons Program studied the Life Skills Grade 9 curriculum, a school-based HIV/AIDS program, as it was introduced in the Pietermaritzburg region of KwaZulu Natal Province in 2001. The 16-hour Grade 9 curriculum was taught at least once a week in the second and third quarters as part of the subject, "Life Orientation."The study used a quasi-experimental research design that included surveying teachers and students over time. Twenty-two schools participated: 11 of the schools in which the course was first introduced served as intervention schools, and 11 where the course had not been taught served as control schools. To measure the effectiveness of the program among students, a pre-test, multiple post-test control group design was used. Students completed the surveys at baseline (T1), immediately after the course was finished (T2), and four months later (T3). Teachers' impressions of the program were also determined from a questionnaire they answered at the completion of the program.
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