Outcomes of the “STEPS” HIV prevention training program for young males in the penitentiary institution, Ukraine


Emily Dauria, (Department of Psychiatry, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)

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Ukraine has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics globally. Due to their engagement in high-risk behaviors, adolescents and emerging adults involved with the penitentiary system are at a particularly high risk of HIV-acquisition. To address the epidemic, young males (aged 14 to 20 years) in penitentiary institutions across Ukraine participated in a ten-week, group-based HIV-prevention intervention (STEPS). The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors analyzed clinical and programmatic services data collected as part of an evaluation of the STEPS intervention. Paired t-tests and χ2 were used to examine pre- and post-intervention differences in HV knowledge, attitudes, and risk behaviors and alcohol and other drug use knowledge.


In total, 105 male youths participated in the ten-session STEPS intervention. At baseline, males reported high frequencies of risk behaviors (e.g. unprotected sexual activity, injection drug use), moderate levels of HIV-related knowledge, and negative attitudes toward HIV and people living with HIV. At follow-up (immediately following the last STEPS session), participants’ HIV-related knowledge substantially improved and participants tended to have more favorable attitudes toward HIV.


Outcomes suggest that knowledge and attitudes about HIV among Ukrainian incarcerated youth can improve as a result of group-based HIV-prevention intervention.


In Ukraine, individuals involved with the criminal justice system are one of the populations most-at-risk for HIV; criminal justice-involved adolescents and young adults are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Research among this sub-population is limited. This study aims to address this gap by evaluating an on-going group-based HIV-prevention program designed to reduce adolescent risk of HIV.


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