Project Lead(s): Pam Muthuuri
Despite the existence of many intervention programs, high HIV infection rates among adolescents worldwide account for 42% of new infections, with 80% of new infections being in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS 2010).
Girls aged 15–24 have HIV infection rates twice as high as in young men and, in Kenya, HIV prevalence among young women aged 15–24 is four times higher than among young men.
Adolescent girls are also more likely to contract HIV from older, more sexually active male partners, whom they look to for financial support.
The aim of the No Sugar For Me project was to test the impact of training girls in negotiation skills when faced with situations that could lure them into unsafe sexual practices, primarily by ‘sugar daddies’.
The project developed a curriculum for interactive didactic games, teaching adolescents about the risks of ‘sugar daddies’ and making the modules available through a mobile phone app.
These educational modules were developed by peers and addressed contextual factors that lead to transactional sex and HIV infection among adolescent girls in Western Kenya.
About 2,000 schoolgirls received empowerment and negotiation skills training for the prevention of unsafe sex practices and exposure to HIV, as a result of the study.
The project showed that training girls on negotiation skills was an effective way of reducing the risk of girls having sex with ‘sugar daddies’.
The success of the project was assessed using a sample set of 226 students. Before the project, 113 of these adolescents showed an inability to handle partner and peer pressure, which is key in practicing safe sex or having a healthy sexual relationship. After the project, all 226 participants showed improved knowledge.
The project collaborated with the school heads, the local county education officials and the Kenya Scouts Association to influence the local county officials to introduce a policy document to include the training of better negotiating skills to schoolgirls, to be taught alongside the school curriculum.
The school heads also proposed introducing a pilot program in the boys’ schools, dealing with similar topics.
Knowledge of the project was disseminated in conferences.