Barriers to HIV/AIDS knowledge and prevention among deaf and hard of hearing people.

This study investigated knowledge about HIV/AIDS and barriers to HIV/AIDS education and prevention among deaf and hard of hearing people. Focus groups and individual interviews were used to elicit information from various groups of people with a hearing loss in different regions of New York State. Themes elicited in the interviews suggested that deaf sign language users are less knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS than oral deaf and hard of hearing participants, and that deaf adolescents have more knowledge than deaf adults. These findings likely reflect differences in levels of education and English proficiency. In addition, participants living in urban areas and in sizeable deaf communities are more exposed to information about HIV/AIDS than other participants. All participants reported difficulties in communication with medical providers, limiting their access to health information and proper medical care. Recommendations for the design and dissemination of educational materials and greater access to services for deaf and hard of hearing people are provided.