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South African Medical Journal

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HIV/AIDS - related knowledge, attitudes and practices among South African military recruits

Elna van der Ryst, Gina Joubert, Francois Steyn, Christo Heunis, Jo le Roux, Carolyn Williamson

Abstract


Objectives. To assess the level of HlV-related knowledge, as well as high-risk behaviour and attitudes towards HIV, in a group of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) recruits.

Design. Cross-sectional study.

Setting. Tempe military base in Bloemfontein.

Subjects. Three hundred and thirty-nine recruits from one company.

Outcome measures. HIV-related knowledge, attitudes and practices based on a self-administered questionnaire.

Results. All of the recruits were male, and most of them (81.4%) were black. The majority of recruits (98.5%) were between 18 and 24 years old. They had a good level of knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS, with more than 80% giving a correct response in most cases. However, several important misconceptions regarding HIV /AIDS and its transmission still exist. Furthermore, several recruits still practised high-risk behaviour, such as not using condoms with casual or new partners. Most obtained their knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS from schools (34.8%), health and social services (27.1%) and the printed media (17.7%), while only 5.2% s tated that they learnt about HIV /AIDS from the SANDF education programmes.

Conclusion. Efforts towards initiating behaviour changes in military recruits should be intensified, and if necessary education programmes should be adapted to facilitate achievement of this goal.




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