Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 490–506 | Cite as

Do School-Based Programs Prevent HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections in Adolescents? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

  • Ali Mirzazadeh
  • M. Antonia Biggs
  • Amanda Viitanen
  • Hacsi Horvath
  • Li Yan Wang
  • Richard Dunville
  • Lisa C. Barrios
  • James G. Kahn
  • Elliot Marseille


We systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness of school-based programs to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among adolescents in the USA. We searched six databases including PubMed for studies published through May 2017. Eligible studies included youth ages 10–19 years and assessed any school-based programs in the USA that reported changes in HIV/STI incidence or testing. We used Cochrane tool to assess the risk of bias and GRADE to determine the evidence quality for each outcome. Three RCTs and six non-RCTs, describing seven interventions, met study inclusion criteria. No study reported changes in HIV incidence or prevalence. One comprehensive intervention, assessed in a non-RCT and delivered to pre-teens, reduced STI incidence into adulthood (RR 0.36, 95% CI 0.23–0.56). A non-RCT examining chlamydia and gonorrhea incidence before and after a condom availability program found a significant effect at the city level among young men 3 years later (RR 0.43, 95% CI 0.23–0.80). The remaining four interventions found no effect. The effect on STI prevalence was also not significant (pooled RR 0.83 from two non-RCTs, RR 0.70 from one RCT). Only one non-RCT showed an increase in HIV testing (RR 3.19, 95% CI 1.24–8.24). The quality of evidence for all outcomes was very low. Studies, including the RCTs, were of low methodological quality and had mixed findings, thus offering no persuasive evidence for the effectiveness of school-based programs. The most effective intervention spanned 6 years, was a social development-based intervention with multiple components, rather than a sex education program, and started in first grade.


HIV Sexually transmitted infections Adolescents School-based programs USA 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This project was completed as part of Consortium for Assessment of Prevention Economics (CAPE), of Cooperative Agreement (Grant No: U38PS004649), NEEMA, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

As no human subjects were involved in the research undertaken to produce this article, no informed consent was required.

Supplementary material

11121_2017_830_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1806 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Mirzazadeh
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. Antonia Biggs
    • 2
  • Amanda Viitanen
    • 3
  • Hacsi Horvath
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Li Yan Wang
    • 5
  • Richard Dunville
    • 5
  • Lisa C. Barrios
    • 5
  • James G. Kahn
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  • Elliot Marseille
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Bixby Center for Global Reproductive HealthUniversity of California, San FranciscoOaklandUSA
  3. 3.Global Health SciencesUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy StudiesUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Adolescent and School HealthU.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Infectious Diseases, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB PreventionAtlantaUSA
  6. 6.Global Health Economics ConsortiumUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  7. 7.Health Strategies InternationalOaklandUSA

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