Perceptions of educators of Deaf and hard-of-hearing adolescents of HIV-risk factors for these youths
AbstractLike 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: disability research, HIV prevention, risk behaviour, schools for the deaf, sexual behaviour, South Africa
African Journal of AIDS Research 2012, 11(4): 343–348