The prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and early pregnancy are high among adolescents in Madagascar.
We applied a qualitative descriptive approach to evaluate perceptions, attitudes, and misconceptions regarding STIs and contraception among female and male adolescents ages 15-19 years (n = 43) in Northern Madagascar in 2014 using focus group discussions with open-ended questions. Data were coded and analyzed for major themes. Participants were in the 6th to 12th grade in school; 53% were female.
Despite high levels of awareness, significant stigma against and misconceptions about STIs, condom use, and sexual practices existed. Many participants did not know how to use condoms and felt uncomfortable suggesting condoms with regular partners, despite acknowledging infidelity as a frequent problem.
Male participants were more willing to use condoms as contraception for unwanted pregnancy than for prevention of STIs. Most participants held misconceptions about side effects of contraceptives, including infertility, cancer, and preventing bad blood from leaving the woman's body. Systematic and community-wide health education and formal reproductive health curricula in schools may improve attitudes and stigma regarding STIs and family planning.
These strategies need to be developed and employed via collaboration among faith-based, community and non-governmental organizations, schools, and governmental health and social service agencies.
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- 1 Department of Internal Medicine , Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center , Boston , Massachusetts , USA.
- 2 Departments of Population Health and Medicine , New York University School of Medicine , New York , New York , USA.
- Women Health. 2016 Apr 19.
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