213901 GEMS in the Spirit: A Case Study in Adapting and Tailoring an HIV Prevention Education Program for Adolescent Girls in Faith-based Organizations

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quinn Gentry, MBA, PhD , Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Issue. Formative research into the lives of girls who attend Christian faith-based organizations on a regular basis revealed that many have unmet needs as it relates to healthy sexual decision-making. Despite conservative standards and moral beliefs of abstinence before marriage, young people in faith-based organizations continue to engage in high-risk sexual behavior. Faith-based gatekeepers need to understand pertinent co-occurring issues that place girls at greater risk for HIV.

Description. This presentation highlights ways in which a three-year community-based HIV prevention program for vulnerable girls known as the GEMS (Girls Empowered and Motivated to Succeed) program was adapted and tailored to be implemented in faith-based organizations. The faith-based adaptation of the GEMS program known as “GEMS in the Spirit” incorporates religious practices that build upon the values and belief systems associated with youth ministries.

Lessons Learned. Emerging best practices in working effectively with faith-based organizations to implement HIV prevention education included: (1) formative discussions with faith-based leaders; (2) a review of policies governing the separation of church and state as it relates to adolescent health education; and (3) conducting work group meetings with faith-based leaders and health educators to integrate religious practices into the core elements of the GEMS program.

Recommendations. Next steps include building capacity and institutionalizing the GEMS in the Spirit program as a best practice for engaging faith-based stakeholders on sensitivity public health topics such as HIV and sexual risk-taking among adolescent girls.

Learning Objectives:
1) Explain how to adapt and tailor an HIV prevention program for faith-based settings 2)Discuss innovative techniques for conducting social marketing and outreach campaigns at faith-based organizations 3)Discuss the need for respect and sensitivity to the mission and methods of faith-based organizations 4)Identify techniques for engaging youth ministry volunteers as co-facilitators in HIV prevention education

Keywords: Faith Community, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as a behavioral scientist specializing in HIV prevention for over a decade.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.