Sexual behaviors, contraception use and barriers among adolescents and young adults in rural Haiti.
Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) in Haiti experience a high unintended pregnancy rate, in part due to unmet contraception needs. Little is known about AYA opinions of and experiences with contraception that may explain remaining gaps in coverage. We aimed to describe barriers and facilitators to contraception use among AYAs in Haiti.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey and semi-structured qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of AYA females aged 14-24 in two rural communities in Haiti. The survey and semi-structured interviews assessed demographics, sexual health and pregnancy prevention behaviors and explored contraception opinions and experiences according to Theory of Planned Behavior constructs: attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. We used descriptive statistics to report means and responses to Likert scale and multiple-choice questions. Guided by content analysis, we analyzed interview transcripts through inductive coding and team debriefing.
Among 200 survey respondents, 94% reported any past vaginal sexual activity, and 43% reported ever being pregnant. A large majority were trying to avoid pregnancy (75%). At last sexual activity, 127 (64%) reported use of any contraceptive method; Among them, condoms were the most common method (80%). Among those with previous condom use, most reported use less than half the time (55%). AYAs were concerned about parental approval of birth control use (42%) and that their friends might think they are looking for sex (29%). About one-third felt uncomfortable going to a clinic to ask for birth control. In interviews, AYAs desired pregnancy prevention but frequently noted concerns about privacy and parental, community and healthcare provider judgement for seeking care for reproductive health needs. AYAs also noted a lack of contraception knowledge, evident by frequent misconceptions and associated fears.
Among AYAs in rural Haiti, a large majority were sexually active and desire pregnancy avoidance, but few were using effective contraception due to numerous concerns, including privacy and fear of judgement. Future efforts should address these identified concerns to prevent unintended pregnancy and improve maternal and reproductive health outcomes in this population.