Background: To successfully develop and implement school-based sexual health interventions for adolescent girls, such as screening for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis, it is important to understand parents’ and teachers’ attitudes towards sexual health education and acceptability of sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening interventions. Methods: In this qualitative study, we approached parents and teachers from three high schools to participate in in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus-group discussions (FGDs). Parents and teachers were asked about their general knowledge of STIs and sexual health education. In addition, they were asked whether they would support utilizing outreach to schools to facilitate provision of sexual health education and screening for STIs in adolescent girls. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed, and translated into English. An initial coding matrix was developed and refined throughout the coding process. Transcripts were coded by two researchers and analyzed using the content analysis approach. Results: We conducted 10 IDIs (5 parents and 5 teachers) and 4 FGDs (2 with parents, 2 with teachers, total of 26 participants). Most parents reported few or no discussions regarding STIs with their adolescent girls. Parents were more comfortable discussing consequences of sexual activity including loss of virginity and the potential for pregnancy. Parents tended to place responsibility for sexual health education with teachers. The teachers, in turn, provided basic sexual and reproductive health education including puberty, abstinence, and overview of STIs. Both parents and teachers found the idea of screening for STIs in adolescent girls to be acceptable, and were comfortable with research staff contacting girls through informational meetings at schools. Parents felt that adolescents’ STI screening results should be shared with their parents. Conclusion: In this African setting, parents and teachers provide limited sexual health education, with a focus on negative consequences including loss of virginity, pregnancy, and risk for STIs. Nonetheless, both parents and teachers were supportive of STI screening for adolescent girls, beginning with school-based informational meetings for the girls. Research and programs that aim to provide STI screening in this setting must offer treatment and address the issue of whether results will be disclosed to parents.
Reproductive Health, 14:95
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