HIV/AIDS knowledge, risk perception and attitude toward safer sex practices of visually impaired and sighted pupils in Thika municipality, Kenya
HIV/AIDS is a reality among the visually impaired although little research has been done to address this issue. For instance, there are no statistics indicating the number of visually impaired who have died or been infected by the AIDS epidemic in Kenya. Interventions such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention campaigns on safer sex practices have not particularly targeted the visually impaired. This makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and at high risk of infection. The aim of this study was to find out the HIV/AIDS knowledge that the visually impaired and the sighted adolescent pupils possess, their perception of risk of infection with HIV/AIDS and their attitude towards safer sex practices. In addition, the study sought to find out differences between visually impaired and sighted pupils HIV/AIDS knowledge, perception of risk of infection and attitude towards safer sex practices. Descriptive survey method was used to collect data. Two schools from Thika Municipality were selected for the study. The sample consisted of 116 pupils. Descriptive statistics such as means and percentages and inferential statistics such as KruskalWallis Non Parametric test were used to analyze the data. The data was collected using questionnaires, and was then coded, entered in a computer, cfeaned and analyzed using SPSS statistical package. The findings indicated that, the mean score for knowledge was 92.94% for sighted pupils' and 87.59% for visually impaired pupils. The risk perceptions mean score for the sighted pupils was 71.08% and 68.03% for visually impaired pupils. A majority of both the visually impaired and sighted pupils had a positive attitude towards safer sex practices. The results showed that the visually impaired scored much lower than the sighted pupils on the HIV/AIDS knowledge scale. There were significant statistical differences between visually impaired and non-visually impaired pupils' knowledge of HIVIAIDS and perception of risk of infection with HIV/AIDS. In spite of the high knowledge levels reported, the visually impaired pupils had less knowledge and more misconceptions compared to the sighted pupils. It is the recommendation of this study that the government and other stakeholders increase education programmes to address the various misconceptions about HIV/AIDS transmission, ways through which HIV can and cannot be transmitted. The government should make available HIV/AIDS information in accessible formats for the visually impaired through Braille, audio tapes and large print visual aids. Visually impaired persons that have been affected and infected with the virus should also be used in the HIV/AIDS information education campaigns. Further research is recommended to include visually impaired people who are sexually active and those infected with HIV/AIDS.