Stepping Stones policy brief
The Gender and Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council recently held a seminar to release the Stepping Stones findings to policy makers and stakeholders on Tuesday 6 March 2007.
Stepping Stones is the first ever behavioural intervention study that provides evidence of success in bringing about changes that reduced sexually transmitted infections in study participants.
The study has also had a huge effect on men showing it to be effective in reducing sexual risk taking and violence perpetration among young rural African men.
Prof Rachel Jewkes, the head of the MRC Gender and Health Research Unit, says that “Stepping Stones is the first HIV prevention behavioural intervention to have been subjected to the most rigorous level of evaluation in South Africa and to have provided evidence of success in reducing sexually transmitted infections in women."
2794 trial participants consisting of young men, women were recruited. They were mainly from schools in 70 villages of the Eastern Cape. The clusters were randomly allocated to receive either Stepping Stones or short HIV intervention and the young people were followed up for two years after the intervention to assess whether there was a long term impact on new HIV and herpes infections and on behaviour change.
Findings provide considerable evidence that Stepping Stones is a useful HIV prevention intervention and is successful in changing a range of different men’s behaviours, and thus is deserving of further development and investigation.