One key component of the ACDP intervention was the recruitment of peer volunteer networks to distribute and verbally reinforce prevention messages and materials among their peers. Recruiting peers to deliver intervention messages and materials has been successfully used in other HIV prevention programs and was considered a promising approach for several reasons:
- Peers can serve as role models for others in their community who want to
adopt risk-reduction practices;
- By spreading HIV prevention messages through their social networks, these community members can also assist in changing the perceived norms in the community toward acceptance of risk-reduction practices;
- Community members often have immediate credibility with their peers;
- These volunteers often can distribute a greater volume of materials than program staff alone; and
- The volunteers also can distribute materials at more times and locations that may be possible for paid staff to reach.
The local ACDP projects recruited persons from the targeted populations, other local residents, and persons from area businesses who had contact with the target population. These community volunteers were recruited and trained to distribute small media intervention materials in their community. They focused the recipients' attention on the HIV infection prevention messages or
role model stories in these materials and reinforced the recipients' attempts to adopt and maintain risk reduction practices.
During the 3-year intervention period (July 1991 to June 1994), nearly 1,000 people were
trained to distribute materials.