Gender differences in HIV knowledge and unsafe sexual behaviours among disabled people in South Africa

Rohleder P. ; Eide A.H. ; Swartz L. ; Ranchod C. ; Schneider M. ; Schur C. (2012)


Purpose: The international literature suggests that disabled people may be at increased risk for HIV infection. There is a growing increasing recognition of this in South Africa, although there remains a paucity of literature on how disabled people are affected by HIV/AIDS. This is a concern given the seriousness of the epidemic here. This paper reports on descriptive data exploring gender differences in HIV knowledge and unsafe sexual behaviours among disabled individuals in South Africa. Method: Data was collected by means of a survey questionnaire from a total sample of 285 disabled individuals in three of the nine provinces in South Africa. Data was analysed by means of descriptive statistics. Results: There are low levels and uncertainty of knowledge about HIV transmission and HIV prevention, with females tending to have lower levels of knowledge than males. Although the importance of condoms in HIV prevention was recognised, there were relatively high levels of reported unsafe sexual behaviours. Males reported higher number of monogamous and concurrent sexual partnerships and sex without a condom after alcohol use. Conclusions: The results support the literature that suggests that disabled people are at risk for HIV infection, and that both male and female individuals with disability are at risk. Implications for Rehabilitation People with disabilities may be at increased risk for HIV infection, yet are often overlooked. Contrary to the myth of asexuality, people with disabilities do have sex. This study indicates lower levels of HIV knowledge among people with disabilities, particularly among women with disabilities. This study also indicates a relatively high prevalence of unsafe sex behaviours among people with disabilities. People with disabilities need to be included in general HIV prevention campaigns. Copyright © 2012 Informa UK, Ltd..Copyright © 2012 Informa UK, Ltd.

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