Public Knowledge about HIV / AIDS: A survey of Dental School patients
Introduction: Accurate information about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is important for prevention of this life-threatening disease. This study sought to determine the knowledge and attitudes of 224 patients, aged between (18 years and 65 years) attending the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Dental Center. Material and Methods: A self-administered questionnaire containing questions on general knowledge about AIDS, modes of transmission and misconceptions was used. The data was analyzed using Epi-info statistical software. Results: The study revealed that 90% of the respondents knew what AIDS was and how to protect themselves against the virus but only 58% rated their knowledge as being a lot. The highly educated had lower scores in misconceptions on HIV modes of transmission although more of them felt the virus could be acquired through casual contact with an infected person. Seventy-five percent of the highly educated respondents wanted to know more about AIDS when compared to 50% of the less educated counterparts. More of the less educated replied they were at no risk of acquiring the virus. Concerning attitudes, 17% were not willing to be tested for HIV and only 66% responded they would accept an AIDS vaccine were one to exist presently. Ninety percent believed doctors were their most reliable source of information concerning AIDS. More males (98%) than females (84%) wanted to know more about AIDS. Conclusion: Knowledge of HIV/AIDS is high especially among the highly educated adults attending the LUTH dental center. General knowledge on HIV/AIDS among the less educated needs to be emphasized. Also knowledge of methods of transmission of the HIV should be improved upon among both the less and well educated groups. There is a need to change the attitude towards taking an HIV test and receiving a vaccine were one to be available now. The dental community needs to raise its visibility and be involved in the enlightenment of the public on HIV/AIDS and its control programs.
NQJHM Vol. 15 (2) 2005: pp. 92-97