Partnering with Batswana youth and families for HIV and AIDS prevention
St. Lawrence, Janet S.
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Introduction: This qualitative study triangulated data from adolescents, parents, and key informants in Gaborone, Botswana on adolescents’ risks for HIV infection, STIs and pregnancy, the types of relationships they get into, and preventive measures they use to protect themselves against HIV infection. The goal of this qualitative research is to inform adaptation of an intervention originally developed, implemented, and evaluated in the US that was effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection and early pregnancy by delaying initiation of sexual relationships of abstinent ado- lescents and lowering sexual risk behaviours of adolescents who were already sexually active. The objectives of this study were to conduct in-depth interviews with youth, key informants and parents; determine the behavioural risks that young people face; Assess youth and parents’ attitudes toward providing a risk reduction programme for adolescents and Use the data to adapt an evidence-based programme for Botswana. Methodology: In-depth qualitative interviews with 40 youth, 20 key informants and 40 parents elicited information on the risks and relationships that youth engaged in and their suggestions how their risky behaviours could be minimized or counteracted. Findings: Youth of both sexes engage in risky sexual behaviours that could predispose them to contracting HIV and STI infections or unplanned pregnancies. Risks were associated with use of alcohol and drugs: commonly marijuana, and engaging in unsafe sexual relations. Youth, key informants and parents showed a high level of acceptability for offering a primary prevention in- tervention program for adolescents. In addition, all groups of participants concurred on the importance of offering a separate program for parents to equip them with skills that can enable to them to guide their adolescents to safely transit into adulthood through education and family communication skills. Other risks confronting adolescents included sexual initiations from either older men or women (sugar daddy and mummy syndrome) in exchange for material and financial gains. Conclusion: Informants endorsed the need for primary prevention programs addressing adolescents and their families to reduce risk behaviours among Batswana youth to provide them with skills and minimise the risk of HIV in- fection among adolescents.