A KAP (Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices) study on abstinence as an HIV preventive strategy among adolescents in Kampala Secondary Schools.
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This study on abstinence as a strategy for HIV prevention among adolescents in Kampala secondary schools set out to investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to abstinence as a primary HIV prevention strategy. The main objective of this research was to investigate attitudes, knowledge and practices related to abstinence as a strategy for prevention of HIV infection among the adolescents in Kampala secondary schools. A total of 353 adolescents aged between 12 and 21years attending secondary schools in Kampala were interviewed and data analyzed. Using frequency tables, the distribution of respondents according to their characteristics was presented. The chi – square test was used to establish the association between the independent variables and the dependent variable (Practice of abstinence). Abstinence was generally interpreted to mean virginity or avoidance of any coital activity. Some had a more liberal definition and interpreted abstaining to mean being in a relationship but not engaging in any sexual activities. This definition was, however, challenged by some who felt that abstinence meant being in no girl/boy relationship at all. Despite universal awareness and approval of abstinence as an appropriate HIV prevention strategy, myths and misconception still abound. Abstaining was perceived to result into diseases like backache, masturbation and impotence. Respondents’ knowledge of abstinence as an appropriate HIV prevention strategy was explored. Only a few did not have the knowledge while the majority were aware that abstinence was an effective HIV prevention strategy. Since attitudes towards virginity may determine ones practice of abstinence, respondents were asked whether they thought it was possible for one to maintain virginity till marriage and majority thought it was possible while the minority thought it was not possible. The majority of the adolescents reported to be abstaining. Other strategies adopted to prevent HIV were condom use and being faithful to their girl/boy friends. In the cross tabulations, factors that were found to be associated with adolescent decision to abstain were: age, sex, ever had sex, have boy/girlfriend, had sex in last one year, attitude towards virginity, knowledge of abstinence as an effective HIV prevention strategy, exposure to pornography, no of wives adolescents father has and quality of sex education received. According to the model, those likely to abstain were male, young, had received information that abstinence is an effective HIV prevention strategy, had no girl/boy friend, had never had sex, had received value based sex education, had not had sex in the last one year, had a positive attitude towards premarital chastity and were not exposed to pornography. This study recommended that targeted interventions like counseling, Information , Education and Communication materials should be provided to help adolescents fully understand the meaning of abstinence and cope with this period. It was also recommended that adolescents who have already made a decision to abstain should be followed up especially those who are out of school. More research in related areas not yet addressed has also been suggested. Future researchers should investigate the social stigma that those abstaining are confronted with. They should also study the lives of younger adolescents aged 10 –12years.