Sexual abstinence and HIV knowledge in school-goong adolescents with intellectual disabilities and non-disabled adolescents in Nigeria
Objective: The study compared sexual practices and predictors of sexual abstinence among adolescent learners with mild/moderate intellectual impairments and their non-disabled peers in Nigeria.
Methods: This was a comparative, cross-sectional survey that assessed sexual practices of learners with mild/moderate intellectual impairments (N = 300) and non-disabled learners (N = 300), aged 12–19years, in Oyo State, Nigeria. Data were analysed using SPSS 15.0.
Results: Findings indicated that learners with mild/moderate intellectual impairments abstained from sex less than non-disabled adolescents (p = 0.002). Girls with intellectual disabilities were almost four times more likely to report history of rape than non-disabled girls. There was no significant difference between sexually abstinent and sexually experienced learners with intellectual disabilities (p = 0.671) and non-disabled adolescents (p = 0.181) in their mean HIV transmission knowledge scores. Many factors, including being male, social supports and self-efficacy determined sexual abstinence among adolescents.
Conclusion: Although sexual abstinence is the recommended HIV-prevention strategy in HIV prevention curriculum in Nigerian schools, findings of this study suggested that sexual abstinence alone may not be effective for adolescent learners with intellectual disabilities. Interventions targeting youth with intellectual disabilities should consider all these factors.