Researchers from College of Health Sciences; Herbert Kiyingi (left) and Wolfgang Hladik interacting during the dissemination of findings from crane survey Bio-behavioral survey amongst different key population in Kampala at Golf Course Hotel Kampala last week. Photo by Godiver Asege
One out of every five female deaf persons in Uganda has been a victim of rape in the last 12 months, a new health survey shows.
Up to 45% of respondents in a study assessing HIV and quality of life among the deaf in Kampala stated having been coerced into sex while 20% cited rape during the past year.
The 2017 Crane Survey Report released last week interviewed 1,011 respondents living in Kampala between February 2014 and February 2015.
The study conducted by Makerere University School of Public Health, in partnership with the US Centers for Disease control and Prevention and the ministry of health.
It sheds light on the unique challenges faced by persons with disabilities pertaining to access to healthcare and information about HIV.
According to the study, HIV knowledge among the deaf is poor. 40% of the respondents said they had never heard about HIV while 60% do not know that HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
One major challenge is the communication barrier as most health facilities and care givers can neither understand nor communicate using sign language. Economic hardships are major concerns for the deaf.
At least half of the deaf rate their overall quality of life as either poor or very poor while one in three of them described accessing healthcare as being either difficult or very difficult.
Researchers want special interventions for the deaf and other persons with disabilities so that HIV messages can reach them more effectively.
According to the survey, the HIV prevalence rate among the deaf stands at 2%, far lower than the national average of 6.4 but risky behavior could expose many to infection.
About 1.6 million people are living with HIV in Uganda. HIV prevalence has been declining over the last four years, largely due to a drop in new infections and resulting from an intense HIV campaign.
Statistics from the health ministry show that new infections dropped to 99,000 cases in 2014, down from 140,000 recorded in the year 2013.