oa South African Family Practice - Knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of adolescents in relation to STIs, pregnancy, contraceptive utilization and substance abuse in the Mhlakulo region, Eastern Cape : original research
Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV / AIDS are a major problem in South Africa. This, coupled with a high incidence of teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, is of grave concern, especially its impact among the young (15-24 years) and in economically poor, rural populations. This study aimed to assess the youthsâ?? knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding STIs, teenage pregnancy, contraception and substance abuse.
Methodology: This is an interview-based, descriptive study. The sample design employed a stratified sample (using schools as strata) of young people aged 15 to 24 years in three schools in the Mhlakulo region, Eastern Cape province. From each school, a sample of learners from grades 10 to 12 was selected randomly. Questionnaires covering relevant parameters were used to interview the learners, after which the data were assimilated and analysed.
Results: A total of 150 learners were surveyed (86 females and 64 males). In total, 56% of them knew about STIs. About 88% of the participants learned about STIs from health care workers/nurses/doctors/clinics, the media, educators, the school and friends. Most preferred to communicate to friends (38.67%) and siblings (28%); only 15% communicated with parents. Among the sexually active, 54% reported the use of condoms; of these only 62% used them consistently. Of the participants, 7.33% had more than five sexual partners. Of the young women, 12.8% reported to have fallen pregnant with one-sixth of them wanting to become pregnant. Thirty per cent of those pregnant had to quit school, but did return subsequently. Common contraceptives used were condoms (54%) and pills (58%). Twenty-two per cent of the youths admitted to the use of recreational drugs at some time; most of these were related to alcohol (19.33%). A small fraction (1.33%) used dagga (cannabis).
Conclusion: There is lack of knowledge of STIs and their prevention and condom and contraceptive use among young people of this community. Sexual promiscuity and teenage pregnancy in the group is a cause for concern. Substance abuse is another important problem that requires urgent attention.
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