AIDS Education:

Reaching Populations at Higher Risk

PEMD-88-35: Published: Sep 16, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed the ways in which public health research could be used to provide educational messages to prevent the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among drug users, minorities, and adolescents.

GAO evaluated prior research efforts and developed a seven-step model for any public health education campaign. GAO found that AIDS education campaigns should: (1) be directed specifically at high-risk groups and practices; (2) develop a variety of mass-media materials incorporating risk-group values, family symbolism, idiomatic expressions appropriate to the risk groups, and humor to make the campaigns more appealing; (3) teach risk-reduction skills and procedures; and (4) provide motivators for risk reduction.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Customs has indicated that attempts to convince the authorizing committee to introduce an amendment have not been successful and will not be pursued.

    Matter: If Congress passes legislation stipulating that the outcome of AIDS campaigns funded by the Department of Health and Human Services be evaluated and the results be reported to departmental officials or to Congress, such legislation should require that these reports describe progress in assessing the relative effectiveness of different components in AIDS education. These components should include, but need not be limited to, alternatives for defining the target group and handling its risk characteristics, the media employed, the information, skills, and motivators provided, and the outcomes intended under each campaign.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency is implementing a similar evaluation effort for what GAO recommended, but is apparently unwilling to make the specific additions GAO recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should ensure that the plans for evaluating the department's AIDS education efforts ensure collection of data by which the relative effectiveness of different components can be assessed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services


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