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Research and Quality Control in the Area of HIV and STI Prevention

Since effective prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is only possible on a science-based foundation, all of the activities and the individual media and measures put forward by the Federal Centre for Health Education undergo continuous scientific flanking.

Pre-Testing and Evaluation

Individual measures such as for example poster motifs and TV or cinema spots are already subject to detailed focus-group testing prior to their deployment. The main questions being checked are: how are the messages perceived, understood and accepted? It is precisely these factors that make them effective.

Close-up image of a printed LIEBESLEBEN document with survey results.

»Public Awareness of AIDS in the Federal Republic of Germany«

Since 1987 the Federal Centre for Health Education has conducted regular representative surveys – »Public Awareness of AIDS in the Federal Republic of Germany« – to see how the various services in the area of HIV and STI prevention reach the general public and what effect these measures have on people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. The survey examines how the perception of HIV and AIDS has been developing in the public mind, to what extent people use different information services, how well-developed the knowledge necessary for HIV and STI prevention is and to what extent sexually active individuals protect themselves from such infections. The study is a central tool in directing and optimizing LIEBESLEBEN and because of the relatively long repeat periods, it reveals the historic trend of different developments. The trend here is really quite positive: the percentage of people using condoms frequently or always increased from 23% in 1988 to 74% in 2016.

»Youth Sexuality«

A further important source of data to assess the need for prevention work – with a particular focus on the needs of young people – is the representative repeat survey on youth sexuality. The Federal Centre for Health Education has been collecting data on the attitudes and behaviours of young adults, adolescents and their parents in Germany with regard to sexuality and contraception since 1980. The focal topics are sexuality education in school and at home, first sexual experiences and contraceptive knowledge and behaviour.

The results of all the surveys and evaluations are used internally to regularly check and develop the prevention work; they are also published by the Federal Centre for Health Education and thereby made available to co-operative partners and multipliers.

Quality Control

The Federal Centre for Health Education has developed and tested a quality control procedure for the area of HIV and STI prevention. As part of the EU-wide »Joint Action on Improving Quality in HIV Prevention« the Federal Centre for Health Education has co-operated with more than forty organizations in order to improve the quality of projects and programmes focused on HIV prevention. In the »joint action«, different tools to develop quality were applied to more than 80 projects. It was in this context that the »Charter for Quality in HIV Prevention« was developed; it summarizes the principles, criteria and measures to improve quality and invites experts and political decision-makers to champion the improvement of their work in HIV prevention.

All the important research data and programmes can also be found online on the Federal Centre for Health Education’s website.

A nationwide study on adult sexuality in Germany

In order to develop specific HIV and STI prevention services as part of the LIEBESLEBEN campaign further, more important fundamental data on sexual experiences, attitudes and adult relationships all over Germany are needed.

With this in mind, a nationwide study on adult sexuality in Germany is currently being prepared. The goal of this study will be to obtain a better understanding of, and reliable empirical data on, the spread and level of knowledge in the general population about HIV and other STIs as well as about specific risk groups that are most likely to be affected by such infections.

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