What do Malawi Polytechnic first year students know and do about HIV and AIDS?

  • S Kumwenda
  • C Kambala
  • C Mwendera
  • K Kalulu


Background: The Polytechnic introduced a “WHY WAIT?” course to equip first year students with skills to help reduce transmission of Human Immune-deficiency Virus (HIV). Training is conducted during the first week of arrival at college. The study aimed to explore existing knowledge, beliefs and attitudes in order to tailor the training programme to students’ needs.
Methods: This was a cross sectional study. During first day of arrival, first year students available on campus were given a structured self-administered questionnaire which was filled and submitted before the course. Out of 320 questionnaires distributed, 295 were returned representing 92% response rate.
Results: Ten percent (30) had more than one girlfriend or boyfriend. Ninety-seven percent (286) indicated that condoms are not 100% effective towards prevention of HIV while 72% (169) reported that they had never had sexual intercourse before. Of 66 students who had had sexual intercourse before, 30% indicated that they used condoms always during sexual intercourse, 40% used it occasionally while 30% never used condoms. Thirty-two percent (94) reported having an HIV test before and 19% (56) would feel uncomfortable to share a room with an HIV infected person.
Conclusion: The Polytechnic first year students have varying knowledge and practices about HIV and AIDS. There is need to intensify “WHY WAIT?” course to first years during first week at College to help equip them with necessary knowledge and skills to protect themselves against HIV and AIDS.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262