The proposed project will utilize qualitative (theatre testing) and quantitative data (pre and post tests) to develop a prototype of a computer-based HIV curriculum in American Sign Language to meet the cultural, linguistic and specific learning needs of deaf high school students. Adolescents and young adults are at high and continuing risk of HIV infection. Deaf youth are at particular risk due to lack of access to HIV information commonly available to their hearing age peers. This is, in part, due to their generally low reading levels. Deaf youth are also at increased HIV risk due to their sexual risk behaviors, cultural norms, and inadequate school-based HIV prevention programs. Results from an HIV knowledge and risk behavior survey of over 700 deaf students who attend 15 deaf high schools throughout the US recently conducted by our research team, indicate that students at deaf high schools have low levels of HIV knowledge and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. Learning style and cultural differences as well as linguistic differences (use of American Sign Language) make it necessary to adapt curricula for this group of students. Currently there are no HIV prevention curricula available that meet the specific learning and language needs of deaf high school students. The prototype curriculum will be adapted from an evidence-based HIV curriculum for youth. It will enhance knowledge about HIV transmission, and develop negotiation skills and decision making strategies for risk reduction among deaf high school students. The prototype will be field tested in classes at high schools for deaf students. Preliminary effectiveness of the prototype will be assessed through pre and post tests of student knowledge, skills and attitudes, and assessment of acceptability. The feasibility and acceptability of creating a full-scale computer-based HIV curriculum in American Sign Language will be assessed though analysis results of qualitative and quantitative measures collected during field testing. Such an HIV curriculum will meet the specific learning needs of deaf students. In doing so, it will also meet the needs of teachers of deaf students for a curriculum culturally and linguistically targeted to their students.
HIV infection is a continuing problem for youth and adolescents;deaf youth are at particular risk due to their low HIV knowledge, high risk behaviors and lack of appropriate HIV curricula which meet their specific learning, cultural and linguistic needs. The proposed project will develop a prototype of a computer-based HIV curriculum in American Sign Language, adapted from an evidence-based HIV curriculum for youth, to meet the needs of deaf students. When fully developed, this curriculum will enhance knowledge about HIV transmission, and develop negotiation skills and decision making strategies for risk reduction among deaf high school students.