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Perceptions of educators of Deaf and hard-of-hearing adolescents of HIV-risk factors for these youths

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Like the general population in South Africa, adolescents with deafness or who are hard-of-hearing may be vulnerable to HIV infection. They are exposed to all known risk factors for HIV infection. Educators who work in schools for Deaf (meaning culturally deaf) and hard-of-hearing adolescents can provide valuable information about HIV-risk factors for these youths. We conducted 21 in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions with educators of Deaf and hard-of-hearing adolescents in six schools in two provinces of South Africa. We explored the participants’ perceptions of the HIV-risk factors to which their learners are exposed. The educators were aware of the adolescents’ vulnerability to HIV infection. All the participants believed that Deaf and hard-of-hearing adolescents are at risk of contracting HIV due to vulnerability to sexual abuse and higher-risk sexual behaviour. The participants were aware of substance abuse patterns, such as excessive alcohol use or recreational drug use, among their learners. Adolescence is a vulnerable period, and adolescents who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing are likewise exposed to the risk of HIV infection.

Keywords: HIV prevention; South Africa; disability research; risk behaviour; schools for the deaf; sexual behaviour

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology,Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1Matieland 7602,Stellenbosch, South Africa

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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