David Lagoro Kitara, James Henry Obol, Juan Carlos, Nanteza Sumayiya and Kenneth Olido
Little is known about barbers’ hair-cutting practices and the precautions they undertake in Gulu Municipality. There are some concerns that hair-cutting sessions may be a contributing factor to HIV transmission in the region. This study was designed to assess the knowledge, attitudes and precautionary practices of barbers in the main streets of Gulu municipality. A cross-sectional study was conducted in barbershops of Gulu Municipality. Data were collected using a validated checklist to directly observe sixty hair-cutting procedures. Questionnaires were directly administered in fifteen barbershops randomly selected from twenty main street barbershops. Informed consent was obtained from each barber and ethical approval was obtained from the ethics review committee of Gulu Hospital. All barbers were males with an age range of 19-34 years and a mean of 25 (± 3.55) years. Most barbers 25 (83.3%) attained a post-primary school education and 28 (93.2%) learnt hair-cutting through apprenticeship and 2 (6.8%) from barber school. The instruments used were razor blades 46 (76.7%), manual clippers 26 (43.3%), smoothers 48 (80.0%), scissors 34(56.7%) and electric clippers 48 (80%). Clippers were sterilized in 4 (6.7%) and disinfected in 44 (73.3%), while no decontamination was carried out in 8 (13.8%) sessions. Air fresheners/after-save were used in 31 (52%) of the disinfections, a disinfectant not recommended for HIV inactivation. Ultra-violet light sterilizers were used in 60% of the sterilization process. There was blade-to-skin contact in all sessions and accidental cuts occurred in four sessions and none was properly managed. The risk of transmitting HIV is high in these barbershops. Health education strategies including training, supportive supervision and peer education are needed to facilitate the adoption of effective precautionary measures against HIV infection among barbers.
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