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Qualitative assessment of knowledge of HIV/AIDS among an indigenous ethnic group of the Peruvian Amazon
C. Zavaleta1, H. Razuri1, K. Konda2, C. Fernandez3, E. Bartlett4, S. Vilcarromero1, Y. Valderrama3, J. Mujica5, N. Cueva6, S. Vermund4, E. Gotuzzo1
Issues: Currently, there is insufficient information available to design effective HIV/AIDS prevention strategies for indigenous communities in Peru.
Description: We conducted an exploratory qualitative study regarding knowledge, attitudes and practices around HIV/AIDS and STIs among an indigenous ethnic group in the Peruvian Amazon. Between July 2006 and September 2007, we visited 10 communities and realized 15 in-depth interviews, 17 focus groups and 20 informal interviews with key informants and randomly selected community members.
Lessons learned: The information collected suggests a lack of information regarding HIV/AIDS and STIs among this population. Participants expressed that HIV/AIDS is acquired through sexual contact with commercial sex workers (male or female) in cities; however, it is not recognized that HIV could be acquired within the communities. Syphilis and gonorrhea are recognized as being locally transmitted, but participants often mentioned that transmission occurred by “sitting on some surfaces” in addition to sexual contact. Multiple sex partners and sex between men are common among this ethnic group. Although condoms are available from the Ministry of Health they were not recognized by all informants as a means to prevent HIV/STI. Additionally, participants expressed fears about using condoms including condoms being irrecoverable from the vagina and potentially spoiling as well as causing dizziness and headaches among men. Participants stated that traditional healers were knowledge about sexual health and STI’s; however, HIV was conceived as an external entity that transcends the expertise of these healers. Additionally, evidence of power dynamics and sexual violence against women indicate increased vulnerability among indigenous women to HIV/AIDS.
Next steps: To design an HIV/STI prevention strategy adequate for this social and cultural context, this strategy should work with their social structures and focus on the introduction and promotion of healthy behaviors, for example engage the traditional healer network to promote condom use.
AIDS 2008 – XVII International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. MOPE1084
“C.Zavaleta, et al. Qualitative assessment of knowledge of HIV/AIDS among an indigenous ethnic group of the Peruvian Amazon. : AIDS 2008 – XVII International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. MOPE1084”