Socio-economic and cultural factors in the transmission of HIV/AIDS among school and college going youth in Central division of Garissa district, Kenya.
Hussein, Noor Abdille
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The UNAIDS/WHO estimate that about 42 million people worldwide were infected with HIV/AIDS by the end of the year 2002 with more than half believed to have acquired the disease between the age of 15 and 24 years. About 29.6 million of the world's total HIV/AIDS cases are found in sub-Saharan African where the disease is becoming the leading cause of mortality. In Kenya, it is estimated that 2.5 million people were living with HIV/AIDS by the end of the year 2001. For long, the youth have been regarded as one of the most vulnerable members of our society. Physical, psychological and social attributes of adolescence make young people particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other transmitted infections. Therefore, there is need to understand the level at which the above factors contribute to this vulnerability. The main objective of the study was to establish the socio economic and behavioral factors that influence the transmission of HIV/AIDS among school and college going youth. The work was carried out among secondary school and colleges in Central Division in Garissa District, Kenya. A total of 389 students aged between 15 and 24 years were interviewed. Data was obtained using structured questionnaires and focus group discussions. It was then analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 10. In this package, Chi square was used to establish relationships between independent and dependent variables. The results of the study indicate the existence of disparities especially in the knowledge possessed by the students. For instance, many young people still believe that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted in ways unrelated to known facts such as shaking hands (28%) and sharing utensils (38.6%). Besides, there are those who believe that there disease is curable. About 31.6% of the respondents have had sexual intercourse. This indicates that 42.2% of the boys and 20.5% of the girls are sexually active. There was significant relationship between involvement in sex and age group (c2=9.366, df=1; p<0.05), which indicated that more students aged between 20 and 24 years involved themselves in sex more than those, aged 15 and 19 years. On individual perception towards vulnerability, 50.4% believed that they are not vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, which reflects a disturbing sense of vulnerability that many young people have. On the involvement of drugs the study revealed that 23.1% of the boys and 6.3% of the girls use drugs. From the above trends in the study, it was concluded that there is lack of proper dissemination of adequate HIV/AIDS information as well as limited involvement of the youth in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in the community. It is imperative therefore, that the youth be empowered and efforts made to encourage youth-friendly approaches in dealing with HIV/AIDS. Besides formulated disease control policies should be culturally sensitive to accommodate socio-cultural factors specific to certain communities.
- MST-Zoological Sciences