Zika Virus Knowledge, Health Education, and Contraceptive Use Among Rural Dominican Republic Communities [12I]

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Amidst the Zika virus epidemic, a team from Des Moines University traveled to four rural communities surrounding Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic to provide health services. The team assessed Zika virus knowledge, common contraceptive methods, and current methods of disseminating vital health information over a period of four days.


Ninety men and women provided informed consent to participate in a 12-question, verbally administered survey.


Most participants had heard of Zika virus and had received their information from charlas, a local term for informal health presentations. Few knew that Zika is present in their communities, can be sexually transmitted, and is incurable. The most commonly cited contraceptive method was condoms, and thirty percent of participants did not use contraception. One patient reported long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) usage.


Significant Zika knowledge deficits were present within these communities and accurate knowledge varied. Through identification of specific knowledge gaps, communities can disseminate standardized, unambiguous, and realistic recommendations to prevent infection during similar epidemics. Additionally, the limited usage of LARCs appeared, anecdotally, to be due to lack of access, rather than lack of desire for LARCs. This is particularly concerning in an environment where pregnancy prevention is the primary recommendation to prevent fetal harm. Future research should analyze charlas to identify the most effective methods for disseminating critical information in a timely manner to similar populations. In the context of inevitable future epidemics, results may not only be applicable to Dominican communities, but to rural communities globally.

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