Street Smart seeks answers to spread of STDs

Street Smart is a research-based program designed to prevent HIV/AIDS and STDs in youth whose behaviors place them at risk for becoming infected.

Street Smart is the product of extensive collaboration among researchers from University of California, Los Angeles Center on Community Health, staff from public and private agencies serving homeless and runaway youth and youth from diverse backgrounds.

The Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii has received a five-year research grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement the Street Smart program in Hawai‘i, specifically with Asian-Pacific Islander girls. CDFH has personalized the curriculum to be gender-specific and culturally appropriate for API girls, ages 12 to 18. CDFH and Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i, with support from Kaua‘i County through the Healing Our Island Grant, partnered to bring Street Smart to Kaua‘i, first in 2004. At present, CDFH and Hale ‘Opio are completing the fourth year of the Street Smart cohort on Kaua‘i and are completing the last of the research. Past research has shown that after youth participate in Street Smart, they reduced their substance use and number of unprotected sex acts, according to a Hale ‘Opio press release. Past cohorts have also resulted in new friendships and positive supportive bonds among the participants that are further cultivated by a six-month reunion and follow-up with each group, states the release.

Though the research component of Street Smart on Kaua‘i will be completed this year, Hale ‘Opio will continue to offer the Street Smart program annually and will send two staff to national Street Smart training in Michigan this summer. Young women participating in the program learn problem solving and decision making skills, how to identify situations and personal triggers that might put them at risk, and how to communicate more effectively about issues related to their health and well-being with parents and other supportive adults. All of these skills help young women to keep themselves safe from HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

The next girls’ Street Smart will be offered by Hale ‘Opio in July. Sessions are held after school, twice a week, for six weeks.

Young women between the ages 12 to 18 can participate in the program.

If interested contact Arleen Kuwamura of Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i at 245-2873 ext. 244 or e-mail


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