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Participatory Learning - 33% Reduction in the Incidence of HSV-2

Fri, 03/03/2023 - 06:43
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Strategy researched

HIV prevention and sexual health improvement intervention using participatory learning approaches to build knowledge, risk awareness, and communication skills and to stimulate critical reflection

Impact achieved

Stepping Stones was associated with a reduction of about 33% in the incidence of herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.46-0.97; P=0.036) - that is, it reduced the number of new HSV-2 infections over a 2-year period by 34.9 (95% CI 1.6-68.2) per 1,000 people exposed. However, there was no evidence that Stepping Stones lowered the incidence of HIV (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.67-1.35).

Country of study

South Africa

Research methodology



BMJ: British Medical Journal; 2008

Journal paper title and link

Impact of stepping stones on incidence of HIV and HSV-2 and sexual behaviour in rural South Africa: cluster randomised controlled trial

Excerpt from Abstract

"Stepping Stones did not reduce incidence of HIV but had an impact on several risk factors for HIV - notably, HSV-2 and perpetration of intimate partner violence."

Summary at this link



This card may benefit by elaborating on what significant behavioural impacts were achieved in relation to the several risk factors for HIV - notably, HSV-2 and perpetration of intimate partner violence, rather than acknowledging no impact on the key indicator of HIV incidence. The argument being that the other behaviors are determinants of the later achievement of reduced levels of HIV infection.

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The impact data presented meets the following high standard for inclusion criteria:

  • Positive change or trend in a priority development issue;
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  • Numeric impact data point
  • Published since 2010.