Background: This quantitative cross-sectional study examines sexual behaviour of a target group of hearing-impaired persons in Yaounde, the capital city of the Republic of Cameroon. It measures their HIV prevalence to enable assessment of their sexual vulnerability and to help reduce the gap in existing HIV serology data among people with disabilities in general and the deaf in particular.
Methods: The snowball sampling procedure was adopted as an adequate approach to meet this hard-to-reach group. A total of 118 deaf participants were interviewed for the behavioural component, using sign language as a means of data collection, while 101 participants underwent HIV serology testing. Descriptive analyses were done for behavioural data with Epi info software, while sera were tested by health personnel, using rapid and confirmation test reagents.
Results: From the results, it was clear that the hearing impaired were highly involved in risky sexual practices, as observed through major sexual indicators, such as: age at first sexual intercourse; condom use; and knowledge of sexually transmitted infections and AIDS. Furthermore, it was noted that the HIV prevalence rate of the hearing impaired in the capital of Cameroon was 4%, close to the prevalence in the city's general population (4.7%).
Conclusions: Such results suggest that there is a need for in-depth behavioural research and serological studies in this domain to better understand the determinants of risky sexual behaviour among the hearing impaired, and to propose operational prevention approaches for this group.