The importance of HIV prevention messaging for orphaned youth in Zimbabwe
Author(s): Haney E, Singh K
The AIDS epidemic has contributed to a drastic increase in the number of orphans in Zimbabwe. Female adolescent orphans are particularly in jeopardy of contracting HIV due to disadvantages including extreme poverty, low education, and the absent of parental oversight which can lead to higher risk-taking sexual behaviors. By understanding where girls receive education about HIV and who they rely on for information, organizations can effectively modify existing programs to better target this at-risk population. For this study a household survey was conducted which included 216 orphans and 324 non-orphans (n=540), aged 12–17 years, in the resource-poor setting of Hwange District, Zimbabwe. The aims of this article were to examine the differences between orphans and non-orphans in HIV prevention message exposure, level of motivation for learning about HIV, and communication with caregivers about safe sex. The household survey revealed that younger orphans, aged 12–15 years, were more motivated to learn about HIV and had greater HIV messaging exposure in school than non-orphans. These exposure and differences in the levels of motivation between groups dissipated at older ages. Our research also discovered less caregiver communication among orphans than non-orphans. Our findings suggest that HIV programs targeting orphans need to do a better job at keeping older orphans interested in HIV prevention at a time when it matters most. Furthermore, intervention strategies that provide caregiver support are instrumental in effectively delivering prevention messages to girls at home.
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