Academic-community partnerships as a strategy for positive change in the sexual behavior of rural college-aged students.

Students who completed the pre-intervention survey were asked to complete the 74-item questionnaire again to determine if risky behavior had changed over time. Substantial reductions in risky behaviors were reported. Students reporting five or more sex partners in the previous year decreased from 13% to 4%. Students reporting “always” or “mostly” using a condom increased from 51% to 61%. Other positive findings indicated that students who had contracted a STD decreased from 8% to 2%, and students who experienced an unwanted pregnancy decreased from 12% to 4% [21]. However, despite the positive behavior changes reported, student’s perceptions of sexual norms remained inaccurate. For example, although 72% of students reported having zero to one sex partner(s) in the past year, students perceived that only 5% of the student population had zero to one sex partner(s). The effectiveness of specific efforts to change perceptions (e.g., newsletters, interactive booths) requires more intensive evaluation so that successful strategies can be reinforced and/or developed [21]. Positive findings from this academic-community partnership underscore the need for nurses to acknowledge the influence of the community on impacting an individual’s behavior, and integrate interventions that modify the social context of at-risk behavior. The results of this study also suggest that nursing centers can successfully establish effective academic-community partnerships and design innovative primary prevention programs that can positively modify the social environment for positive changes in health behavior of at-risk populations. Limited health care resources in rural communities demand innovative approaches to reduce the continually increasing incidence of these diseases. Since limited resources for HIV/STD prevention existed in this rural community, collaboration with community agencies that had available resources was essential to developing effective prevention efforts. Academic-community partnerships can increase the number of persons at risk that are reached and, ultimately, help prevent further increases in HIV/STD cases in rural areas.