Home Health 56 % of Guyanese youths contracted STIs – GRPA study
Fifty-six per cent of youths in Guyana who are sexually active have contracted a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) at some point in their lives, a Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) study revealed, stating that over a quarter are not using condoms.
The study “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A snapshot of sexual knowledge, attitudes, and practices among Guyanese youths age 14-25” examined the sexual activities of youths in eight Administrative Regions, with 44 per cent of the respondents from Region Four.
The majority of the youths who contributed to the study were still attending school while a third was out-of- school youths. The report was completed by Sherlina Nageer, of the Ministry of Public Health and commissioned by the GRPA.
The report indicated that most youths conflated sexually transmitted diseases with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), meaning that most of their knowledge about sexually transmitted infections centred around HIV only and they were generally unaware of the other STIs.
It stated that while 69 per cent of sexually active youths did report using condoms during their sexual encounter, a distressing 29 per cent were not using condoms while having sex. A fifth of these youths, the report added, said their reason for not using condoms was because they and/or their partner did not have any.
On the other hand a quarter of those who were not using condoms said that was because they “trusted their partner and/or were in a committed relationship” while six per cent said they did not like it.
More than half of these youths, 51 per cent, reported not using birth controls with only 15 per cent revealed knowledge of the specific birth control methods.
“Worries about cancer and other side-effects and believing that it was ‘wrong’ and a sin were also cited as reasons for not using birth control,” the study revealed, adding that 36 per cent of these youths have either been pregnant or had gotten someone pregnant.
The study expounded that most of the youths are learning about sex from the internet or their peers. Thus, the study recommended that a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights education be implemented in all public schools in Guyana.
“Youths need and want more information about sex and related topics. There is a clear need for additional unbiased and non-judgmental sources of information about sex, sexual health, and wellness for the young people of Guyana,” the report stated, adding that the educational sector, predominantly, remains an under-exploited avenue for providing such crucial information.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud had outlined that there is a need to re-examine the National HIV/AIDS campaign since there is a growing number of new HIV cases, particularly in youths.
Dr Persaud stated that statistics explained that it is mostly the younger population that has been engaging in unprotected sexual activities, declaring that nearly 60% of youths begin having sex at an early age, while most of them have little to no knowledge on how HIV/AIDS is contracted or know how to protect themselves.