A six month survey has been launched in Kampala, Uganda, to study the HIV/AIDS status among local deaf people. The Crane Survey is a joint effort between various health ministries. The aim is to collect data which can be used to improve communication, counselling and treatment for the deaf people of Kampala.
The survey is the first of its kind in Uganda. Covering the districts of Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso and Mpigi, it is expected a total 1,500 people aged 18+ will be involved in the research.
The survey was unveiled during a workshop last week, where Dr. Rhoda Wanyenza (Associate Professor, School of Public Health) acknowledged the fact that deaf Ugandans have less access to health care and knowledge than their hearing peers. She believes this is due to a lack of understanding about deaf access needs.
She said: “Due to their disability, many are more vulnerable, putting them potentially at increased risk of getting HIV/AIDS.”
The Crane Survey project manager, George William Lubwama, explained that the survey will be carried out using a video-based sign language questionnaire, with sign language interpreter support.
The questions will relate to general health status, alcohol, tobacco and drug use. They will also look at access to general health care, as well as HIV testing, treatment and related diseases.
All the deaf people who complete the survey will be tested for HIV and syphilis, and will receive appropriate pre and post-test counselling. Anybody who tests positive will also be referred for care and treatment, with communication support in place.
Ambrose Murangira, executive director at Uganda National Association of the Deaf, praised the survey planners for deciding to use video-computer based sign language. He said: “The biggest problem with deaf people is communication; it starts right at home and continues to the health facilities which affects their access to health services.”
Murangira also went on to say that, ideally, the nurses carrying out the testing would be deaf, so that the deaf people would feel comfortable interacting with them.
By Emily Howlett
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