The National Program to Prevent AIDS in the Ethiopian Community

In the mid-1990s, the Government of Israel decided to strengthen its efforts to prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus among new immigrants from Ethiopia. This decision was made in light of concern about the level of the HIV virus in that population. Beginning in 1997, a special budget was earmarked for health education and prevention activities culturally appropriate and accessible to the Ethiopian community.

Part of the educational program included community-based health education workshops. These workshops were conducted throughout the country, and their activities comprised five meetings of 2-4 hours for each group of about fifteen participants. The group facilitators were members of the community who received training for this endeavor from the Ministry of Health.

The primary goal of this study was to examine the impact of the intervention on the knowledge, attitudes and behavioral intentions of participants in the health education groups and to identify the program’s weak points. In addition, the study examined whether the level of knowledge prior to participation in the program justified the intervention.

The most significant findings were:

  • There were considerable knowledge deficits prior to the introduction of the program. This provides support for the view that an educational intervention was needed.
  • There was an improvement of approximately 10 percentage points (from 55% to 65%) in the average number of correct/desired responses (to questions related to knowledge and attitudes) given by respondents after participating in the group. The most significant improvement was in the area of knowledge-related questions.
  • The program also appears to have significantly increased the willingness of the participants to use appropriate prevention methods.
  • The respondents’ reports indicated a high level of overall satisfaction with the program, as well as with the subjects covered and the use of various educational aides.
  • Important knowledge deficits remained even after participation in the program, suggesting the need to continue and to improve the program.

The findings were presented to the steering committee and various forums, with participation of members of the Ethiopian community, and they are being used to improve the program. This study was initiated and supported by the Ministry of Health.