HIV/AIDS and Adolescents with Disabilities

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Simbyakula, Margaret
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The main objective of the dissertation was to find out whether adolescents with disability were catered for in educational and preventive outreach programmes in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The study specifically tried to find out if adolescents with disability are sexually active and if they do indulge in unprotected sex, among other things. It is at adolescent stage were individuals want to explore their identity, become adventurous, become sexually active and so on.The study utilized a combination of quantitative and qualitative paradigms. Random sampling technique was used to select participants to ensure that all had an equal chance to participate in the study. They Were drawn from Munali High School Special Unit in Lusaka Province which has a population of 238 pupils. The total sample size comprised of 104 pupils. A trained sign language expert was used as a research assistant to interpret certain concepts in sign language. The researcher conducted personal interviews to blind respondents since the questionnaire was not written in Braille. The study revealed that knowledge of HIV and AIDS among adolescents with disability is still limited and the possibility of them being infected with HIV and AIDS is a reality because 35 percent of respondents in the study admitted that they were sexually active. Medium of communication suitable for specific disabilities if not used will forever exclude adolescent with disability from acquiring information on HIV and AIDS. 42 percent of the respondents had no knowledge of HIV and AIDS. The study made several recommendations. Among them, a national wide research should be undertaken by the Central Statistics Office to yield valid statistics on HIV and AIDS and Adolescents with Disability at national level, mode of communication about HIV and AIDS preventive and health care outreach programmes should be written in Braille and interpreted in sign language in order to reach adolescents with the hearing and visual impairments. AIDS is real and it is affecting all categories of persons. HIV and AIDS reduction, prevention or eradication can only be achieved when HIV and AIDS advocates reach out to all categories of persons. Adolescents with disability should always be considered by all stakeholders in the preventive, education and health care outreach programmes.