Approximately 13% of Zambia’s 15- to 49-year-olds are living with HIV, and the nation’s long-term vision is to end the threat of the disease by 2030. HIV/AIDS is a cross-cutting issue: Zambian leaders hope to simultaneously reduce transmission of other sexually transmitted infections, as well as abortions and teenage pregnancies. However, a lack of correct and comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health, as well as the continued practice of risky behaviors among some adolescents, stands in the way of achieving that goal. Further, baseline data suggest that Zambia’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum, which has been implemented in schools for students in grades five through 12, faces numerous challenges, including limited willingness among teachers to participate and inadequate training materials.
The Join-in Circuit (JIC) on AIDS, Love, and Sexuality Program aims to address shortcomings like these and bolster existing sexual and reproductive health education efforts. Through the JIC, trained facilitators host a circuit of interactive mini-sessions—based around games, role-playing, story-telling, and other tools that ease comprehension—where participants can learn about and discuss sensitive topics: HIV transmission; sexually transmitted infections; body language; positive living; love, sexuality, and protection from HIV; and contraceptives.
Working with Anselm Rink, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Konstanz in Germany, AIR evaluated the efficacy of the JIC in Zambia by conducting a cluster-randomized controlled trial across 134 schools. According to the resulting report, the program had broad positive impacts on students assigned to receive the program, and there were positive spillovers onto students who did not participate in the program. Qualitative data also indicated broad support for the JIC among students and teachers.