INTRODUCTION: Adolescents have a tendency to engage in high risk sexual and drug-use behaviour; and with a poor health-seeking behaviour, they continue to present the highest
number of new cases of HIV reported in Africa.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the knowledge, attitude and practise of
adolescent secondary school students towards AIDS.
METHOD: A cross sectional study was carried out on 358 senior secondary students selected by multistage sampling. A researcher administered semi-structured questionnaire was used for data collection.
RESULTS: All had heard of AIDS, of which 40% cited the media as source of information. Seventy four percent knew the cause to be a virus, 63% could differentiate between AIDS and HIV, over 85% knew of transmission through sex, mother to child,
contaminated blood, and contaminated needles; 59% cited kissing. Weight loss was the most common symptom (85%) mentioned. Over 76% knew AIDS to be untreatable. Over 75%
knew methods to prevent spread of which 23% cited sex with a virgin, 61% did not know anyone infected with the virus, 58% felt infected persons should not be allowed to stay in the
community, 61 % agreed to continue a relationship with an infected friend, 83% agreed to care for an infected relative. Of 22% who agreed they were sexually active, 66% and 12% had one and multiple partners respectively. Regarding protection, 30% used condom always, 48 % sometimes and 23 % never. Twenty-one percent had ever had sex under influence of alcohol or marijuana. 55% were willing to be tested, however none had been tested.
CONCLUSION: Senior secondary school students in Uvwie have a fairly good knowledge of AIDS, and poor attitude towards people living with AIDS. Few are sexually active and are engaged in unsafe sex.
KEYWORDS: AIDS, secondary school students, condom use, knowledge, HIV risk behaviour, sexual practices.