PHAT Life: Effective HIV Intervention for Youth in the Criminal Justice System

Annually, over 1 million youth are involved in the American juvenile justice system. They experience more mental illness, substance abuse, and sexually transmitted infections than their non-adjudicated peers. However, few evidence-based interventions exist to address these problems.

Led by Geri Donenberg, Ph.D., University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), a randomized trial called PHAT Life: Preventing HIV/AIDS Among Teens, was conducted with 310 urban youth, ages 13 to 17, on probation in Chicago’s Cook County, which has the second-largest county justice system in the United States.

PHAT Life is a group risk-reduction intervention that uses role-playing, videos, games, and skill-building exercises to promote knowledge about HIV/AIDS, positive coping, and problem-solving skills for high-risk teens in the juvenile justice system, showed great potential for reducing sexual risk-taking. The findings were published in Health Psychology and funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Date: 2017