Sexual behaviours and vulnerabilities to HIV: A case study of the hearing and visually impaired puipls of Munali boys and Munali girls High Schools in Lusaka
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An institutional data set at Munali Boys and Munali Girls High Schools was showing an unknown gravity of HIV and sexual behaviours among the visually and hearing impaired pupils. Lack of information on the prevalence and factors associated with HIV/AIDS infection among the disabled had led to under estimations of the problem of HIV and risky sexual behaviours. This study sought to: (i) determine the proportion of the visually and hearing impaired pupils who are HIV positive, (ii) determine the risky sexual behaviours among the visually and hearing impaired pupils (iii) determine possible associations of risky sexual behaviors and (iv) explore a possible institutionalised model that could be used to initiate health promotion and HIV prevention among the visually and hearing impaired pupils of Munali Boys and Munali Girls High Schools. This was an exploratory descriptive cross-sectional study was employed. The setting of this study was a pupil sample of 51 from five streams - grade 8 to 12 was recruited into the study randomly. The study found that within the study population, only 4 teenagers among the hearing and visually impaired pupils (2 males and 2 females) said they were HIV positive and 19 said they were HIV negative and all these hearing and visually impaired pupils were teenagers. The other 28 hearing and visually impaired pupils did not know their sero status. The self-report sero prevalence in this study was 7%. The visually and hearing impaired pupils at Munali boys and Munali girls high schools are a subpopulation of youths and adolescents at particularly high risk for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections due to numerous barriers including language, hearing, being physically defenseless, requiring attendant care to receive protection from being abused sexually, sexual behaviours that are determined largely by people other than themselves, careless exposure to sexual diseases, early engagement into sex and none use of condoms. There was no significant difference in knowing one's HIV status by age group (p = 0.200) and not even by sex (p = 0. 347). Being a girl was associated with significant vulnerabilities and risky behaviours. The picture at Munali Boys and Munali Girls High Schools is not different from reports elsewhere that HIV/AIDS is of immediate concern to the disabled populations. This study suggests that significant prevention can be gained for the visually and hearing impaired pupils by using Jessor's theoretical model and special attention should be paid to female pupils. Important issues should be given priority by the Ministries of Education and Health when designing curricular, school health services and particularly emphasizing counseling and testing while expanding treatment for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.