This qualitative study explores how young Ugandans perceive and experience the role of parents in preventing the spread of HIV among youths. Data were gathered from semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 16 in-school youths, ages 18–20, residing in Kampala. A key finding is that the youths perceived parenting styles as influencing HIV prevention among youths. The participants identified several harmful consequences from a lack of parental guidance or inadequate parenting and they discussed the gains of parental support in terms of assisting HIV prevention among youths. The participants expressed the idea that parents can importantly contribute to preventing the spread of HIV among youths by supporting their own adolescent children and discussing topics like sex, relationships, and HIV in an age-appropriate way. However, the participants also felt that Ugandan parents in general are unable to support and talk to youths about sex and HIV in a way that helps protect them from exposure to HIV. The in-school youths felt that parents are unsupportive in terms of HIV prevention among youths by way of fear of talking about sex, parents’ lack of time to engage with their children, and authoritarian or indulgent parenting. The participants also described how parents treat girls and boys differently; however, no significant association was found between how girls and boys conceptualised parents’ roles.
Keywords: Baumrind theory, communication, East Africa, parents, qualitative research, socio-cultural aspects, youth
African Journal of AIDS Research 2009, 8(2): 193–200