The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

“VOICES” Helps With Condom Negotiation

By Dr. Gail Barouh

Although it has not yet achieved the status of “common knowledge,” most adults have come to understand that using a condom is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However knowing this and practicing it can be two different things. For many, convincing a partner to use a condom might be too stressful, or too much pressure, too embarrassing or just too difficult. Some may have reasons they don’t want to use a condom themselves. Also, the fear of conflict at a highly sensitive and intimate moment may seem too hard to overcome.

It is for this reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a program called Voices/Voces over 20 years ago and LIAAC is now implementing this program. It has proven to be an effective education/intervention tool in getting people to change their condom use behaviors. VOICES is an acronym for Video Opportunities for Innovative Condom Education and Safe Sex and VOCES is the Spanish word for VOICES. It is a 45-minute, video-based HIV/STD prevention intervention designed to promote condom use and strengthen condom negotiation skills among heterosexual Black and Hispanic adults. These two cultural groups are currently experiencing a dramatic rise in the transmission of HIV and STD’s. The objectives of VOICES/VOCES are to increase participants’ motivation and intentions to use condoms consistently, improve participants’ negotiation skills regarding condom use and safer sex practices with partners, increase participants’ knowledge about STD/HIV transmission, and improve clients’ assessment of their risk for HIV and STDs and how they can reduce that risk.

The program starts with a video which shows culturally consistent actors navigating some diverse situations and effectively addressing objections to condom use in a natural up-to-date way. After the video, there is a discussion group where moderators talk about real life situations, get feed-back from the group, talk about their experiences and may even do role playing to help participants feel more comfortable with condom negotiation and increase their skills and abilities.

VOICES/VOCES has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing repeat STD infections among heterosexual Black and Hispanic  adult men and women by increasing their knowledge of STD/HIV transmission, helping them make a more realistic assessment of their own personal risk, and increasing their likelihood for getting and using condoms consistently. If you know of a group that you think would benefit from this program, give is a call at 1-877-864-4222.

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