“I myself don’t know. what will i tell them”? Exploring awareness on SRH issues of urban and rural parents of adolescents in Indian context

Laila Garda, KEM Hospital Research Centre
Mallika Alexander, KEM Hospital Research Centre

Young people are vulnerable to HIV and parent adolescent communication on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) issues is protective for adolescent risky behaviour. Hence exploring and strengthening parent’s role, as reliable sources of information would help empower adolescents to make informed choices. Adolescents expect parents to talk to them on SRH issues, but 60% mothers and 70% fathers mention that lack of knowledge is a barrier that restricts such communication. Literature indicates limited information on awareness levels of SRH among parents of adolescents. This paper explores SRH knowledge of rural and urban parents of adolescents and documents gender differences in their knowledge. Information is drawn from baseline qualitative and quantitative data from 286 fathers and 342 mothers of adolescents, of an intervention study addressing Parent Adolescent Communication at community level. Generally level of knowledge is low on all SRH issues. Less than 50% of parents were aware that girls could get pregnant at first unprotected intercourse. Difference is evident in cross gender awareness; 25% urban mothers identifying at least two pubertal changes for boys as compared to 60% urban fathers. In depth awareness of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) was low; less than 50% knowing, regular use of condom or staying faithful to one partner could prevent STI. Low level of HIV knowledge is clear; 60% and 80% of mothers and fathers citing sexual intercourse as a route of transmission. Age segregated data is required to establish level of knowledge of parents of adolescents specifically, in Indian context. Interventions need to be designed to fulfill gaps in SRH knowledge and empower them to talk to their adolescents by enhancing communication skills. This would go a long way in an effort to involve parents to become adolescent friendly sources of information, to possibly halt and reverse HIV transmission rate among young people.

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Presented in Poster Session 3