Let’s talk about sex: A qualitative study of Rwandan adolescents’ views on sex and HIV

Journal articles
2014
6 p.
Periodical title
PLoS ONE 9 (8):102933

Objective: This qualitative study explored the views and experiences of adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV in Kigali, Rwanda, regarding sex, love, marriage, children and hope for the future. Design: The study enrolled 42 adolescents who had received combination antiretroviral therapy for at least 12 months, and a selection of their primary caregivers. Study methods included 3 multiple day workshops consisting of role-playing and focus group discussions (FGDs) with adolescents, 8 in-depth interviews with adolescents, and one FGD with caregivers. Results: The adolescents reported experiencing similar sexual needs and dilemmas as most other adolescents, but with an added layer of complexity due to fears related to HIV transmission and/or rejection by partners. They desired more advice from their parents/caregivers on these topics. Although they struggled with aspects of sex, love, marriage and having children, most agreed that they would find love, be married and have children in the future. The two most discussed HIVrelated anxieties were how and when to disclose to a (potential) sex/marriage partner and whether to have children. However, most adolescents felt that they had a right to love and be loved, and were aware of prevention-of-mother-tochild-transmission (PMTCT) options in Rwanda. Adolescents generally spoke about their future role in society in a positive manner. Conclusion: Strengthening the life skills of HIV-positive adolescents, especially around HIV disclosure and reduction of HIV transmission, as well as the support skills of parents/caregivers, may not only reduce onward HIV transmission but also improve quality of life by reducing anxiety.

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IIEP