The Impact of HIV/AIDS Epidemic on the Choice of Specialties among Medical Students and House officers in Jos, Nigeria
Background: HIV/AIDS is a scourge that has seriously compromised the lives of millions of people, especially those living in sub-Saharan Africa. With continued high prevalence, there is a high risk of healthcare workers, especially those in the surgical specialties, acquiring the infection. This study was done to investigate the impact of HIV on the choice of surgical specialties in a training institution located in Jos, north-central Nigeria. We hypothesized that the awareness of the risk of acquiring infections associated with surgical practice has no significant impact on the choice of surgical specialties among final-year medical students and house officers at our institution. Method: A cross-sectional questionnaire based survey was conducted on final-year medical students and house officers during their training in Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos. Two hundred questionnaires were randomly distributed to final year medical students and house officers who volunteered to participate in the survey. The completed questionnaires were returned to the researchers and information obtained was analyzed using Epi info 3.3. Results: Of the 200 questionnaires distributed, 135 with relevant information were returned for analysis, giving a response rate of 67.5%. Of these respondents, 96.3% said they planned to specialize after their basic medical training and the majority of these (97.8%) were aware of the increased risk associated with surgical specialties, with 83.7% acknowledging the transmission of HIV and hepatitis B as being the greatest risk. About 53.0% of the respondents said they planned to pursue surgical specialties. Fifty three percent (53.3%) and sixteen Percent (16.3%) based their choice of specialty on job satisfaction and favourable work schedule respectively. The knowledge of the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS affected choice of specialty in only 21% of the respondents. Conclusion: The awareness of most recently graduated medical doctors and final-year medical students of the risk of acquiring HIV in surgical specialties seems to have not deterred them from wanting to pursue surgical specialties. We recommend improvements in the work environment and adherence to universal precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and other infections to surgeons practicing in the region.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, choice of surgical specialties, Jos.
Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (2) 2008: pp. 203-206