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Assessing the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of Myanmar youth in regards to HIV/AIDS Natalia Talikowski.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of Myanmar youth in regards to HIV/AIDS Natalia Talikowski."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of Myanmar youth in regards to HIV/AIDS Natalia Talikowski

2 Background One of the biggest challenges facing Myanmar (Burma) today is preventing the spread of HIV/STIs among youth; Currently no statistics available on HIV/STI prevalence; Estimated that a large proportion of youth in Myanmar are already infected with or at risk of being infected with HIV/STI; Limited data and information on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of youth in regards to HIV/STI

3 Aims of Study The main objective: to assess the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of at-risk youths in urban Myanmar with regards to HIV/STI. The sub-objectives of the study were to: assess youth’s level of HIV/STI knowledge; to investigate their attitudes to safe sex practices; and to outline young people’s experiences of accessing and utilising health services.

4 Methodology and Setting A qualitative study was undertaken in Yangon in 2007 Research data was obtained through three focus group discussions with 18 youth and 3 peer educators (10=female and 11=males) in urban areas In collaboration with Marie Stopes International (MSI)

5 Methodology and Settings MSI was involved due to their expertise working with youth in the area of reproductive and sexual health Assisting with the FGDs were two Adolescent Reproductive Health Program Officers and one hired note taker/observer All discussions were held in Myanmar and translated into English

6 Demographic Information Youth were all single and aged 18-24 years. Lower working class families. Either studying, working or unemployed. Religion: mainly from a Christian and Buddhist background Three ethnic groups, namely Bamar (n=11), Karin (n=7) and Chin (n=3).

7 Findings Research findings indicate that although youth in Myanmar have some understanding of HIV/STI prevention and transmission, they believed that they were not at risk and did not take the necessary precautions; “real boxers don’t wear gloves” (male, 18)

8 Findings Both the male and female participants felt strongly that becoming pregnant at a young age was considered worse than contracting HIV/STI Pregnancy is more visible Pregnancy is an immediate problem while HIV/AIDS takes a number of years to develop “…with HIV because of all the drug treatments, people won’t die within 9 months. HIV is not an immediate problem” (male, 21).

9 Findings Female participants felt that discussions on matters such as sex, contraceptive devices and HIV/STIs is considered taboo Young men were more open to talking about issues of sex but only with other close male friends Discussing these issues could result in shame and embarrassment for the family and loss of reputation

10 Findings More comfortable discussing issues of contraceptives and menstruation with friends or peers “It is the boys that introduce us to alcohol and drugs and they are the ones that talk about sex…we would be too embarrassed to talk about it first” (Female, 19).

11 Tea Shop Discussions

12 Findings Both male and female participants stated that they would not feel comfortable attending a health clinic to seek sexual related advice Would only attend when there is a serious medical condition Barriers included: fear of gossip, discrimination, lack of parental consent, embarrassment If seeking traditional means to cure illnesses and ailments, participants would go to the Beetle Nut shop or seek advice from the rickshaw drivers

13 Rickshaw Drivers and Beetle Nut Sellers

14 Implications of findings The findings from the study support a number of recommendations to address issues of HIV/STI prevention amongst youth in Myanmar; Firstly, a school-based HIV prevention program should be incorporated into all schools in Myanmar

15 Implications of findings Secondly, if possible the mass media should be utilised and recognised as an influential tool for young people; Thirdly, community outreach and peer programs should be implemented into the community;

16 Implications of findings Finally, youth-friendly services and centres should be established in the community that allows them to attend facilities that are non- judgemental, friendly, free of discrimination or stigmatisation and acceptable to youth

17 Conclusion This study presents important findings and conclusions that could possibly contribute and advance research into the HIV/STI knowledge, attitudes and experiences of Myanmar youth.











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