A Culturally-Based Program to Reduce Sexual Risk Behavior Among Latino Youth


Background & Goal

Young Latinos begin sexual intercourse later than African-Americans or whites, but studies show Latinos use condoms less frequently. Lack of access to culturally and linguistically appropriate preventive services contribute to low condom use among Latinos.

The nurse developed ¡Cuídate! curriculum for sexual risk reduction attempts to influence attitudes, behavioral and normative beliefs, and self-efficacy regarding sexual risk-reduction behaviors – specifically abstinence and correct condom use.

Program Description

The program emphasizes the Latino cultural beliefs of familialism and gender-role expectations, including machismo. These beliefs are used to frame abstinence and condom use as culturally accepted and effective ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. It works to build HIV knowledge, increase understanding of vulnerability to HIV infection, identify attitudes and beliefs about HIV and safe sex, and increase self-efficacy and skills for correct condom use, negotiating abstinence, and negotiating safer sex practices.

Evidence of Success

  • The curriculum was designed to be implemented by a wide range of persons – including nurses, teachers, and community health workers. With the exception of salaries for trained facilitators and time for training, program costs are minimal.
  • A simulated economic analysis of sexual risk reduction programs, including ¡Cuídate! indicate that evidence based programs designed to encourage safer sexual behavior provide a substantial benefit cost ratio (about $2.50 for every dollar spent) and is an effective policy in reducing teen pregnancy.
  • In an initial evaluation of 553 Latino youth who had participated in the program in Philadelphia between 2000 and 2003, researchers found that youth who participated in the ¡Cuídate! intervention were
    • 34% less likely to report sexual intercourse
    • 47% less likely to report multiple partners
    • 91% more likely to use condoms consistently
  • The curriculum is included in CDC’s Diffusion of Evidence Based Interventions (www.effective interventions.org) designed to bring science-based, community, group, and individual-level HIV prevention interventions to community-based service providers and state and local health departments.
  • In FY 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) identified ¡Cuídate! as one of several nationwide programs that are effective in preventing teen pregnancy. Therefore communities are eligible for federal funding to support further dissemination under the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative.

For More Information Contact:

Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dean & Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
418 Curie Boulevard
Fagan Hall, Room 430
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4217



Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor & Principal Investigator 
University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
420 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096