NIH Funds $177,147 Study to Reduce ‘Intimate Partner Violence’ Among Youth in South Africa

By Melanie Arter | June 9, 2015 | 1:21 PM EDT

A young girl with a placard showing the face of Nelson Mandela and referring to his clan name "Madiba", marches with others to celebrate his life, in the street outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg. (AP Photo)

( – The National Institutes of Health through its National Institute of Mental Health has awarded $177,147 to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation to reduce “intimate partner violence” among South African youth.

“HIV prevalence rates in South Africa are among the highest in the world; transmission is largely heterosexual, and young people, especially young females, are disproportionately affected. It is increasingly understood that efforts to promote safer sexual practices in this vulnerable population may be undermined by high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV),” the grant abstract stated.

Researchers point to “ideologies of male superiority and cultural violence” as reasons for “gender inequality.”

“In this setting, boys are encouraged to enforce the hierarchy, and to use violence to punish transgressions and stifle resultant conflicts. Girls receive little social support to protect them from such aggressive control. Alcohol and drug use are associated with higher levels of relationship conflict and a greater likelihood that violence will occur,” the grant stated.

“High rates of rape and coerced sex are associated with early initiation of sex, failure to use condoms, and multiple, risky sexual partnerships, increasing risk of HIV transmission,” it stated.

The grant proposes an intervention that will increase social support for girls; question male norms of superiority, sexual entitlement, and control of girls; reduce alcohol and drug use; and improve communication to reduce the use of violence in resolving relationship conflicts.

The project involves adapting a school-based program called Safe Dates, which has already been implemented in the United States and has been show to “significantly” reduce intimate partner violence among 8th and 9th grade students in the southeastern U.S.

It will also use materials from two South African intervention programs – Our Times Our Choices and Stepping Stones – both of which “have shown significant effects on key outcomes.”

Researchers propose adapting “Safe Dates for use as an intervention to reduce IPV among in-school South African adolescents” and integrating “interventions targeting HIV risk behavior.”

They also propose conducting “a pilot study of the adapted Safe Dates program with in-school South African adolescents to a) reduce IPV, the primary target of the intervention, and b) delay initiation of sex, increase condom use, decrease the number of Sexual Partners, and decrease risky sexual partnerships, the secondary targets of the intervention.”

The project started on March 6, 2008 and ended on Feb. 28, 2012. The budget started on March 12, 2010 and ended on Feb. 28, 2012. contacted Pamela Kay Cupp, project leader for the grant, but she was unavailable to comment.

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