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Decades of research have identified dozens of programs that are effective in helping young people prevent pregnancy, HIV, and STDs.  These programs provide young people with accurate, honest information about abstinence as well as contraception. Effective programs include school sex education programs, community-based programs, and clinic-based programs which reach a variety of audiences including young people at all school levels and in many contexts, including minority youth.  Read on for guides to effective programs.

Science and Success

In the Science & Success series, Advocates for Youth identifies evaluated programs that have been proven to reduce teenage pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or to cause at least two beneficial changes in sexual risk behaviors.

Science & Success—Programs That Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States

This 2008 publication highlights 26 U.S.-based programs that have been proven effective at delaying sexual initiation or reducing sexual risk taking among teens. 14 of the 26 programs demonstrated a statistically significant delay in the timing of first sex. 14 programs helped sexually active youth to increase condom use and nine programs demonstrated success at increasing use of other contraception. 13 programs showed reductions in the number of sex partners and/or increased monogamy. Seven programs assisted sexually active youth to reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse, and 10 programs helped sexually active youth to reduce the incidence of unprotected sex.

Full Study Report [HTML
Executive Summary [HTML] [PDF]

Other Reports:

Science and Success in Developing Countries: Holistic Programs That Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections

This 2005 publication highlights 10 programs from seven developing countries around the world. All 10 programs produced beneficial changes in sexual risk behaviors among sexually experienced youth while six of these programs also delayed the initiation of sex. Two of the programs showed a reduction in incidence of STIs or pregnancy.

Full Study Report [HTML] [PDF]
Executive Summary [HTML] [PDF]

Emerging Answers

Dr. Kirby reviewed 115 program evaluations to determine the characteristics shared by effective programs.  He found that many programs which support both abstinence and contraceptive use have been proven effective; that none of the programs led to increased sexual activity or earlier onset of sex; and that as yet no abstinence-only program has been found effective.


Effective Programs Recommended by the White House Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

In fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriations, Congress funded the President’s proposed new community Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. Of the funds made available, not less than $75 million is for funding the replication of programs that have been proven effective through rigorous evaluation.  Under a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mathematica Policy Research conducted an independent systematic review of the evidence base for programs to prevent teen pregnancy.  Learn more about the review and the programs deemed effective

Read Emerging Answers

Effective Programs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Replicating Effective Programs Plus

The CDC’s collection of tested, science-based behavioral interventions with demonstrated evidence of effectiveness in reducing risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, or in encouraging safer ones, such as using condoms and other methods of practicing safer sex, packaged as products so that they can be easily replicated. Read Replicating Effective Programs Plus

2008 Compendium of Evidence-Based HIV Prevention Interventions

These interventions represent the strongest HIV behavioral interventions in the literature to date that have been rigorously evaluated and have demonstrated efficacy in reducing HIV or STD incidence or HIV-related risk behaviors or promoting safer behaviors. See the programs in the 2008 Compedium.


Sociometrics Effective Programs

Sociometrics Corporation has a large collection of effective or promising teen pregnancy and HIV/STI prevention programs. Visit them here:

Teen Pregnancy

HIV Prevention

All Effective Programs

Or try the PASHA selection tool for help picking the program that’s right for you:



Promising Programs

Everyday new programs are being developed and field tested. While many of these programs have yet to be fully evaluated, many offer promising approaches to the promotion of adolescent reproductive and sexual health. Read more about Promising Programs


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