POL_Procedural_Guide_8-09.pdf - POPULAR OPINION LEADER...

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POPULAR OPINION LEADER DESCRIPTION Popular Opinion Leader (POL) is an HIV/AIDS risk-reduction program in which groups of trusted, well-liked people are recruited and trained to conduct a novel and particular type of outreach. This outreach focuses on a specific risk-influencing factor, a community norm, such as endorsement of safer-sex behaviors. Opinion leaders endorse targeted risk- reduction behaviors by having casual, 1-on-1 conversations with their friends and acquaintances (peers) in their own social network (friendship group). 1 Only specific peers in social networks are opinion leaders, those who are the most popular, credible, and trusted in their social network. The settings are those in which social networks can be counted or estimated and shared attitudes about HIV risk can be described. Gay bars and community centers used by women in low-income housing have been successful settings. Although originally for men who have sex with men, the POL intervention techniques have been successfully adapted to a variety of risk populations and settings. POL has been packaged by CDC’s Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions project; information on obtaining the intervention training and materials is available at . Goals POL aims to spread messages about a variety of health behaviors (e.g., adopting safer-sex behaviors, seeking HIV antibody testing, disclosing HIV status to sex partners, seeking prevention and medical services) throughout a community. Usually, 1 risk influencing factor, or community norm, is targeted. How It Works The community changes the way it thinks about protecting itself from HIV as a result of efforts of community members. During peer-to-peer conversations, opinion leaders correct misperceptions, discuss the importance of HIV prevention, and describe strategies they use to reduce risk (e.g., keeping condoms nearby, avoiding sex when intoxicated, resisting coercion for unsafe sex). They communicate their personal approval of the targeted risk-reduction behavior, using “I” statements to emphasize personal endorsement. For example, if the targeted risk-reduction norm is routine testing, the opinion leader may say, “I think that routine testing is best; routine testing is what I intend to do. I think it is possible for me to test routinely, and I think it is possible for you to test routinely too.” Effective behavior change communication is that which targets risk-reduction attitudes, norms, intentions, and self-efficacy. Factual information is limited to that which directly promotes the targeted risk-reduction norm.
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