The spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and early pregnancy among adolescents have become public health problems in many settings. School-based, peer-led sexual health education aimed at addressing these issues is extremely important. This systematic review assesses the effectiveness of school-based, peer-led interventions in increasing STIs and/or HIV-related knowledge amongst adolescents in low- middle- and high-income countries.
A systematic search of English literature was conducted on 5th and 6th July 2017. The following databases were searched: PubMed, ERIC and the Cochrane. A hand search of reference lists was also conducted. Eight studies were selected for the systematic review. Inclusion criteria were: studies investigating peer-led interventions for adolescents in a school setting in which the main or one of the components was the improvement of knowledge regarding STIs and HIV/AIDS, and studies that made use of a comparison group.
Six out of eight included studies showed significant effects on the targeted outcome "knowledge", whereas one intervention showed no effects at all and one intervention only showed partial success in terms of the increase of knowledge. Interventions varied widely, and the selection criteria used to recruit peer educators and their training have a major influence on the effectiveness of the interventions.