Ugandan youths who watch TV, listen to radio and read newspapers more likely to know of and test for HIV
In Uganda, youth who read newspapers or watched TV were more likely to test for HIV. Researchers say that if the government can use media to raise awareness, they can promote HIV testing and HIV-related knowledge among youths.
In Uganda, youths are the most vulnerable group when it comes to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection.
Governments do use TV, radio and newspapers to inform and educate the youth about sexual and reproductive health issues. However, scientists do not know for sure whether being exposed to media is related to youth’s willingness to test whether or not they have the disease.
In this study, researchers used information collected during a 2016 health survey in Uganda. They looked at participants’ age, gender, education, and how often they read newspapers, watched TV or listened to the radio. They also looked at their HIV status and their knowledge of HIV.
The researchers said 67% of the youth had primary education, while 30.6% had secondary or higher education. 77.1% of the participants were female.
Their results showed that 45.9% of the youth had never been tested for HIV. The youth also had poor knowledge about HIV.
More than 55.5% of youth listened to the radio at least once a week, while only 9.81% read newspapers at least once a week. Only 20.5% had access to television at least once a week.
The researchers said their results suggested that being exposed to media increased their chances of getting tested for HIV, and led to better HIV-related knowledge. Reading newspapers once a week increased chances of getting tested for HIV by 6.29%, and listening to the radio once a week by 4.57%.
They said those who listened to the radio more than once a week were even more likely to test. The researchers also found out that those who watched TV more than once a week were 8.57% more likely to get tested for HIV.
The researchers concluded that communication channels such as newspapers, radio and TV promoted healthy sexual conduct among youth in Uganda.
They recommended more research to look at the effect of the internet and social media on youths’ sexual and reproductive health in developing countries.
Sexual and reproductive health remains one of the greatest challenges in developing countries. In Uganda, adolescents are the most vulnerable group as far as HIV epidemic is concerned. Mass media awareness campaigns play a key role in promoting sexual and reproductive health among adolescents. Using Uganda’s 2016 Demographic Health Survey, we examine the causal effect of mass media exposure on the probability of adolescents getting an HIV test and their HIV-related knowledge. Our results suggest that the exposure to mass media increases both adolescents’ likelihood to get tested for HIV and their HIV-related knowledge score. In fact, we find that reading newspapers once a week increases the likelihood of an adolescent to test for HIV by 6.29 percentage points. Listening to radio once a week increases the probability to test for HIV by 4.57 percentage points. This effect increases to 6.56 percentage points when the adolescent listens to the radio more than once a week. Watching TV more than once a week increases adolescents’ probability to get tested for HIV by 8.57 percentage points. For HIV-related knowledge, we find that compared to adolescents who do not read newspapers at all, adolescents who read newspapers less than once a week and those who read newspapers at least once a week have a higher score of HIV-related knowledge of 9.12% and 9.64% respectively. Compared to adolescents who do not listen to radio at all, adolescents who listen to radio less than once a week have a higher (5.88%) score of HIV related knowledge. Moreover, listening to radio at least once a week increases the score of HIV-related knowledge by 5.52%. Hence, mass media awareness campaigns are important policies to promote HIV testing and HIV-related knowledge among adolescents in Uganda.
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