Reducing sexual risk behavior among high-risk couples in northern India

Deborah Jones, Rashmi Bagga, Ritu Nehra, Deepika, Sunil Sethi, Kamini Walia, Mahendra Kumar, Olga Villar-Loubet, Maria Lopez, Stephen M. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: With a population of 1.1 billion, India is considered to be a country in which effective prevention interventions could contain the development of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic. Heterosexual transmission accounts for 85 % of the extant HIV infections. Purpose: This study sought to assess the feasibility of conducting a group, culturally tailored behavioral intervention and its impact on sexual barrier use, self-efficacy, knowledge, conflict resolution, and coping among high-risk heterosexual couples in Northern India. Method: This pilot study was conducted at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India from February 2008 to January 2009. Thirty sexually active high-risk couples were drawn from a convenience sample of PGIMER patients attending infectious disease and family planning clinics. Couples participated in 1 month of three weekly gender-concordant behavioral intervention groups and were individually administered assessments preintervention and post-intervention. The intervention was tailored to the Northern Indian context and addressed sexual barrier use, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infection transmission, and cognitive behavioral skill building focusing on sexual negotiation and communication. Results: The participants had a mean age of 32 years (men) and 29 years (women), and the majority had at least 10 years of education. At baseline, the majority reported inconsistent condom use (<100 % of the time; 64 % of women, 59 % of men). Post-intervention, nearly all participants reported consistent condom use (100 % of the time; 100 % of men, 97 % of women). Participants also reported decreased verbal aggression, increased self-efficacy, and increased HIV-related knowledge, and women increased their use of positive coping tactics. Conclusions: The results highlight the potential to successfully utilize a group intervention to discuss sensitive issues such as sexual risk behavior among both men and women. Strategies to improve condom use and communication without increasing intimate partner violence in high-risk couples may be an important adjunct to preventing the development of a generalized epidemic in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Coping
  • India
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Knowledge
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sexual risk reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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