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Effective Interventions

Core Elements & Fact Sheet


WILLOW is a social-skills building and educational intervention for adult women living with HIV. It consists of 4 four-hour sessions which are delivered by two trained adult female facilitators, one of whom is a woman living with HIV.

The small group sessions consist of 8-10 women living with HIV and are conducted in a community-based setting. WILLOW emphasizes gender pride, informs women identifying and maintaining supportive social networks, teaches coping strategies to reduce life stressors, enhances awareness of STD transmission and HIV risk behaviors, teaches communication skills for negotiating safe sex, reinforces proper and consistent condom use, distinguishes between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and defines types of abusive relationships and their effect on a woman's ability to negotiate safer sex practices.

Intervention/Strategy Goals:

  1. The intervention aims to reduce sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV transmission risk behaviors among women living with HIV by fostering gender pride, social support, increased HIV and STD knowledge, self-efficacy for relationship management, safer sex practices and attitudes, and stress management and reduction.
  2. The intervention aims to encourage a lifelong commitment to HIV care, treatment, medication adherence, and living well with HIV.

Intervention/Strategy Core Elements*:

  • Conduct small group interactive sessions that are supportive and meet the goals of the intervention.
  • Implement WILLOW with heterosexual women 18 years or older who are living with HIV, and who have known their HIV serostatus for at least 90 days, in settings that offer services to women living with HIV.
  • Use two skilled, adult, female facilitators to implement WILLOW sessions, at least one of whom is a woman living with HIV and is open and comfortable about their status.
  • Use materials that are gender and culturally appropriate to foster self-worth and self-efficacy.
  • Train women in coping, decision making, goal setting, condom negotiation, and proper condom use skills, all of which are supportive of safer sexual behaviors.
  • Teach women about HIV stigma and disclosure, self-acceptance, self-care, social support networks, STD and HIV information, and consistent and proper condom use to support their decision-making about enhancing quality of life, sexual health, and HIV care issues.
  • Inform women about aspects of healthy and unhealthy relationships and types of abuse as related to the negotiation of safer sexual practices and HIV self-care and treatment.
  • Educate women to be actively involved in their own HIV care, treatment, and adherence in order to establish a long-term goal of living well with HIV.
  • Use an educational and informational focus in the sessions as opposed to a counseling and services provision focus.
*Core elements are the characteristics of an individual intervention presumed to be responsible for the efficacy of the intervention.

Additional Information

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