Implementing Peer Leaders Into Health and Prevention

Students from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have spoken with peer leaders at North Miami High and Palmetto High to learn about their experiences educating their fellow students about sexual health. In both settings, peer leaders expressed the feeling that by virtue of being students themselves, they are better able to connect and relate with their peers, both in terms of understanding what their peers might be going through, and also in terms of conveying information in ways that their peers will be able to relate with. The peer leaders described how they work to preempt questions that their peers might have; they are aware that even if students do not speak up to ask questions, they might still have personal concerns about the topics at hand. Knowing this, the peer leaders described how they strive to address these types of common-yet-sensitive questions in group settings, thereby alleviating the need for individual students to expose themselves.

The peer leaders described how they utilize a wide variety of educational materials to help captivate and educate their peers. They employ creative techniques such as educational games, anonymous question and answer systems, and parent workshops. The students at North Miami have been particularly diligent in developing their peer education curriculum, and have won acclaim at statewide HOSA competitions. However, despite their successes and diligent work, the peer leaders noted that distinct barriers remain. Students at North Miami pointed to social stigma, challenges obtaining parent consent for treatment at the clinic, administrative pushback, student mistrust of the clinic, lack of privacy in the school clinic and resource scarcity (lack of enough trust counselors) as key barriers to adequate clinic access among their peers. Students at Palmetto cited administrative barriers and pushback, the lack of an on-site school clinic, and social stigma amongst students as key barriers to care for their peers. In response to these challenges, students at North Miami felt that changing social perceptions of the clinic among students, reducing stigma, and increasing privacy during and surrounding clinic visits would help increase student utilization of the clinic. Students at Palmetto felt that establishing a care center that could provide STI testing and condoms on site would be the most beneficial in helping their peers attain better healthcare access and sexual health.

As a result of their experiences speaking with peer leaders at North Miami and Palmetto, the medical students were struck by the centrality of social dynamics in determining student utilization of healthcare services. Given this, the medical students propose that student peer leaders should be central to the design and implementation of sexual health education in these schools. The medical students are now working with peer leaders to help create a resource that can address common misconceptions and social stigma against clinic utilization among students in the two schools.

Stay tuned for more info........

Health Education & Life Prevention Issues Now (HELPIN)

Check out our Division of Adolescent Medicine's HELPIN' initiative and its evaluation:

The Health Education & Life Prevention Issues Now (HELPIN) is an HIV prevention and testing program to support current HIV testing at the Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center by instituting rapid test procedures and individualized education. This evaluation was designed to evaluate the impact of participation in the HELPIN education program on HIV knowledge, risk behavior and intention to change unsafe behavior for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 who have been arrested and are detained in the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Miami Dade County. The HELPIN Program is a targeted intervention consisting of a thirty minute one-on-one prevention education session while awaiting the rapid test result. The program was evaluated from June 2008 to April 2009.

Click HERE to view the official evaluation.

The Lunch Date

Dr. Sonjia Kenya

Sex should feel GREAT!  

The creator of humans could have made the reproductive process as simple as holding hands. Instead, most human reproduction requires a man to climax inside of a woman. And anyone will tell you that experiencing an orgasm feels GREAT!

But female orgasms are NOT required for reproduction. So why do women have them? Because we are supposed to feel pleasure during sex. other than pleasure, there’s no reason for women to experience orgasms. I’ve just presented some very strong evidence that nature wants humans to enjoy sex.  

However, it’s very hard to enjoy sex when you’re worried about contracting HIV:

“What if the condom breaks?”

“I hope I don’t get pregnant.”

“I should have used a condom.”

“I wonder if he’s been tested?”

SEX isn’t going to feel as good as it could if these types of thoughts are swirling around in your head. And what’s the point of having sex if it’s not going to feel good? That’s like going to airport and missing the airplane.  Just a waste of time and energy.

The easiest way to relax and have GREAT sex is to get an HIV test with your partner. But that can feel awkward sometimes. If you think that talking to your partner about getting tested would be met with resistance, there’s another way to handle this situation.

Find an HIV testing facility near your house or job, or ask your doctor if they offer HIV testing. Make a lunchtime appointment for you and your boo to be tested. Call your boo and tell them you want to go on a special lunch date and ask them to pick you up about 30 minutes before the testing appointment.

When you arrive at the doctor’s office, explain that you really want to have amazing sex and you would enjoy yourself a lot more if you didn’t worry about HIV. This strategy has worked with everyone I’ve ever recommended it to, and I used it myself before I was married. if the person refuses, and you still don’t feel comfortable talking with them about getting tested, you need to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Because sex with that person is gonna cause headaches, not orgasms.

After your test, go to a nice lunch at a nearby restaurant or whip out a surprise picnic and head to a park. I promise the conversation you have over lunch will help you feel much more connected to your partner. That’s the funny thing about an HIV test. The more people who know their status, the better their sexual relationships.

People who learn that they’re HIV positive are able to get care and have honest sexual communication with their partner which always makes sex more enjoyable! People who learn they’re HIV negative commit to staying that way and realizing how precious sex is, often focus on experiencing more high quality sexual encounters that result in orgasms, not worries!  

So if you want better sex, you want to get tested!  Get tested, and have great sex! To find an HIV testing facility near you, call 800-CDC-INFO, use the free test locater service at:, or contact your local health department.


Dr. Sonjia Kenya is a sexologist, author, and assistant research professor in the department of General Medicine at the University of Miami.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and two master’s degrees, along with her doctorate in health education from Columbia University. At the University of Miami, she conducts community-based research to reduce disparities, primarily focused on sexually transmitted infections.  She also directs the Social Medicine pathway for medical students, and trains residents in cultural competency, including LGBT sensitivity.


P2P's clinical program manager Alex Moreno published a new article in the Miami Herald titled: "Ready or not, the time will come for parents to have ‘the talk’ about sex with their kids." Parents with young children should make sure to check it out for sound advice. Click here to read more. 


Good evening Miami,

It's been a busy month with the holidays and end-of-year preparations and we have some exciting updates!

We attended the 2016 Test Miami Awards where local efforts for HIV/AIDS prevention and education are recognized and celebrated... and P2P took home a couple awards! (Check out awesome pictures of the event in our photo gallery.)

First, our own Shayna Jefferson received an award as "HIV Counselor of The Year!" Go Shayna! Her hard work and commitment has made a significant impact on the community.

P2P also received an award for "Best Community Partnership."

We are greatly honored by the awards and hope to continue to provide Miami with excellent service.

Until next time,

Your friends at P2P


Good morning, Miami!

We will be regularly posting updates on clinic activities to keep our community in the loop. 

This week we wrapped up World AIDS Day festivities with the release of our short film (posted in Projects) titled Two Similar Strangers, make sure to check it out! Our clinic also visited the University of Miami for the day to conduct free testing for students. On Saturday, we traveled to Florida City for an event hosted by the Florida Department of Health. A bit of a busy week for us, but it paid off! Spreading the word and testing as much as possible is our goal.

With that being said, we want to remind everyone to GO GET TESTED and JUST WEAR IT (condoms)... If you have any questions, please call our clinic, stop by, or drop us a message on the contact page. We'll be in touch soon.

Take care,

Your friends at P2P

Check Out Our Clinic

Mailman Center for Child Development
1601 NW 12th Ave
Miami, FL 33136

(305) 243-2174

Mission Statement: To provide free STD/HIV testing and treatment to youth between 13 and 24 years of age in an attempt to reduce the rate of infections in Miami-Dade County, FL.

Keeping it Reel - A Behind the Scenes look with Cast and Crew

Our Educational Approach

Keepin It Reel is an innovative way to involve young people in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The program uses the arts as a way to motivate youth to become actively involved in their community as peer leaders.

The Pilot Program, launched in The Fall of 2014, featured students from Urgent Inc.'s Rites to Passage Leadership Program. First they attended lectures by staff from the University of Miami's Promote 2 Prevent Program (P2P), and then worked on developing a story into a SPEC-script.

The script was developed by University of Miami's Film School and On the Move Productions supporter, David Frankel (of Devil Wears Prada/ Marley & Me fame).

The film produced- 2 Similar Strangers - is now an educational ice-breaker the youth leaders can use in their own educational presentations.

Two Similar Stranges - A Behind the Scene with UM's School of Film Cast and Crew

It all starts here!

Unfortunately, Miami ranks number 1 in the nation with HIV infection rates (49.9/100,000- CDC December 2014). A community approach is needed to tackle this growing problem. On the Move Productions teamed up with the University of Miami in producing a film, 2 Similar Strangers.

As a way of saying thank you to the youth leaders who were involved in the script's development, a behind the scenes DVD was produced. Key supporters, David Frankel (Executive Producer of 2 Similar Strangers) and Senator Rene Garcia were also interviewed.