Establishing a System of Complementary School-Based Surveys to Annually Assess HIV-Related Knowledge, Beliefs, and Behaviors among Adolescents

By Kann, Laura; Nelson, Gary D. et al. | Journal of School Health, February 1989 | Go to article overview

Establishing a System of Complementary School-Based Surveys to Annually Assess HIV-Related Knowledge, Beliefs, and Behaviors among Adolescents


Kann, Laura, Nelson, Gary D., Jones, Jack T., Kolbe, Lloyd J., Journal of School Health


Establishing a System of Complementary School-based Surveys to Annually Assess HIV-related Knowledge, Beliefs, and Behaviors Among Adolescents

ABSTRACT: The Division of Adolescent and School Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and

Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control has responsibility for assisting national, state,

and local education agencies to provide effective HIV education for youth. In fall 1987, 14 state

and 9 local education agencies that serve areas with the highest cumulative incidence of AIDS

cases convened to develop a common set of data items that could provide comparable information

about HIV-related knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors among adolescents in their respective

jurisdictions over time. Surveys were administered during spring 1988 to representative samples of

adolescents in each participating state and city. These education agencies will use the results

from this complementary system of school-based surveys as a guide in planning HIV education,

setting program priorities, allocating resources, and monitoring changes in HIV-related knowledge,

beliefs, and behaviors among adolescents. (J Sch Health 1989;59(2):55-58)

Since 1981, when the first AIDS cases were reported in the United States, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS has precipitated an epidemic unprecedented in modern history. In the United States, an estimated 1 to 1.5 million persons are infected with HIV and are potentially capable of infecting others.[1] By December 1988, about 80,000 cases of AIDS in the U.S. had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). About 45,000 persons had died from the disease.[2]

Only 1% of reported AIDS cases have occurred among persons younger than age 20. Most of these persons were infected by transfusion or perinatal transmission. An additional 21% of reported cases have occurred among persons ages 20-29.[2] Because of the long incubation period between HIV infection and onset of diagnosable symptoms (three-five years or more), some of the persons ages 20-29 with AIDS probably were infected as adolescents.

In response to the AIDS epidemic, CDC was given responsibility for assisting national, state, and local education agencies to provide effective HIV education for youth. The Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, developed a program entitled "School Health Education to Prevent the Spread of AIDS."[3] In 1987, as part of this program, 15 national organizations, 15 state education agencies (SEAs), and 12 local education agencies (LEAs) in areas with the highest cumulative incidence of AIDS cases were awarded federal funds to increase the capacities of schools and other youth-serving organizations to provide effective HIV education. In 1988, the remaining 41 state and territorial education agencies were awarded federal funds to help provide effective HIV education.

The effectiveness of these state and local programs will depend largely on their ability to influence behaviors that increase risk for HIV infection. Therefore, data are needed about the incidence and prevalence of the behaviors that increase risk for HIV infection among adolescents and about principal determinants of these behaviors (such as knowledge and beliefs) at the national, state, and local levels. Several existing state and national surveys of health behaviors among adults have been or will be modified to collect data about behaviors that increase risk for HIV infection, including the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,[4] the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,[5] and the National Health Interview Survey.[6] However, few school-based survey systems exist that can be used to generate information about the incidence and prevalence of important health behaviors among adolescents on an annual basis. …

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