Risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS infections among deaf youths in selected educational institutions in Nyanza province, Kenya
Odera, Petronilla Achieng
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HIV/AIDS has become one of the greatest challenges of the 21" century. Young people, though identified as the window of hope, account for 60% of all new infections in most African countries. In Kenya, HIV/AIDS is a national disaster and the Kenya Government, in conjunction with both the local and international NGOs have put measures to create awareness among the most vulnerable youth groups. Nonetheless, most measures have not been targeting the three million disabled persons in the country. Currently, little is known about HIV/AIDS and disability. Very little data on prevalence exists for any disabled population globally. Major gaps in the national HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns and treatment programmes have made disabled population more vulnerable to HIV infection than their non-disabled counterparts. The main objective of this study was to investigate risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS infection among the deaf in selected educational institutions in Nyanza Province. A cross-sectional descriptive survey was carried out, and data collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods that include structured questionnaire, focus group discussions (FGD) and key informant interviews (KII). Data was entered into SPSS programme and analyzed using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. A sample of 384 respondents was randomly selected. Twenty eight point one percent (28.1%) of the respondents were orphans and had lost a parent or two. Nearly half, (48.7%) had had sexual contact and minimum age of first exposure was 9 years. The mean age of first exposure was 15.54 years with a standard deviation of 3.019. The findings of the study indicated that Socio-demographic factors, Behavioral factors and Knowledge of HIV/AIDS had significant influence on predisposure of the respondents to HIV/AIDS. The findings also showed high significant relationships between Socio-demographic factors and HIV/AIDS risks (p< 0.05) in the following: Age and Sexual harassment; Age and Perception of risk (x2=17.854, df=4, p=0.001; x2= 48.944, df=4, p=0.0001) respectively. Respondents less than 18years of age were more likely to be sexually harassed than those older or equal to than 18years. Level of Education and Perception of risk; Level of education and Sexual harassment (Z=14.090, df--3, p=0.135; x2=26.952, df=3, F=0.0001) respectively. Relationship with the Household head and Perception of risk; (x =20.574, df=6, p=0.002). Majority of the respondents engaged in unsafe sex practices therefore the findings of this study rejected the null hypothesis. High significant relationship between Knowledge of HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS risks (p< 0.05) was also recorded in the following: Knowledge of HIV/AIDS by perception of risk and condom use (x2=15.556, df=2, p=0.0001; x2=8.101, df=l, p=0.004) respectively. The study demonstrated that knowledge of HIV/AIDS did not translate into safe sex practices and personal perception of risk among the deaf youths was low. Findings consistent with UNICEF (1997-2001); and UNAIDS (2002). This study therefore recommends that the government and non-governmental organizations should fully involve the deaf youths in the designing of HIV/AIDS interventions which target them and in policy implementation.