Training Peer Leaders

Peer leaders are valuable members of the HIV prevention workforce.They can help their peers reduce HIV risk behaviors and increase HIV testing by making personal connections, building relationships, breaking down barriers, addressing taboos, distributing knowledge, and connecting peers to services. Youth may offer support to their peers in groups or receive special training and serve as leaders. Once peer leaders are recruited, ongoing training is essential for supporting youth development and ensuring a program's success.

Webpage Resource

This website from Empower, a project of Central Toronto Community Health Centres, gives examples of ways programs can use the arts to train diverse youth to become HIV peer educators in their communities. 

Through regular training and encouragement, peer leaders will gain knowledge and refine skills in facilitation techniques, communication, negotiation, role modeling, etc. These skills will serve them well as leaders and in other aspects of life. For successful peer leader training, the following steps should be carried out:

  1. Develop a training strategy and select a quality curriculum. It is helpful to have a plan for what the peer leaders will be trained on and when over the course of the program. Whether modifying an existing training curriculum or creating a new one, ensure the end result is factually correct, sensitive to the audience and cultural environment, inclusive of ethical issues that may arise, as well as useful to the peer leaders.
  2. Select a qualified training coordinator or conduct a training of trainers. The trainer should be knowledgeable, flexible, skilled at working with youth, and respectful of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  3. Conduct the training in a way that encourages participation and learning. Plan adequate time for a variety of exercises and activities that allow interaction. Many trainers use facilitation techniques to engage a group and maximize participation.
  4. Evaluate the training. Feedback about whether the training's content, exercises, and trainers were effective and relevant will allow for any necessary modifications to be made. Assess knowledge gained and skills built by comparing results on pre- and post-training evaluations.
Page last updated: March 2018