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Perceptions and knowledge about the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome among students in university residences

R.H. Friedland
S.K. Jankelowitz
M de Beer
C De Klerk
V. Khoury
T. Csizmadia
G.N. Padayachee
S. Levy


Using an anonymous questionnaire to obtain baseline data on sexual behaviour and knowledge of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among students in university residences, the following information was obtained: Knowledge of AIDS was found to be high, although misconceptions regarding transmission of the virus were prevalent. Mosquito bites (15%) and the donating of blood (31%) were incorrectly identified as methods of transmission of the virus. Deep kissing was recognised by only 27% of the students as a possible method of transmission while 22% and 13% of the students, respectively, failed to identify the sharing of razor blades and blood transfusions as possible means of contracting HIV infection. The students' knowledge had not greatly affected sexual behaviour. Two-thirds of the respondents had previously had sexual contact; 38% .were sexually active at the time of the study, and of these 74% had engaged in unprotected intercourse with casual partners in the previous 6 months. There was a negative attitude towards condom use and over 80% of sexually active students did not perceive themselves to be at risk of contracting AIDS. Campus Health (82%), State health services (51%), and public advertisements (60%) were preferred sources of AIDS information. Newspapers/ magazines (80%) and leaflets (69%) were identified as the preferred media. In reality, significantly fewer students obtained their information from Campus Health (15%; P < 0,05), State health services (19%; P < 0,05) and leaflets (44%; P < 0,05). It can be concluded that education programmes should be developed by credible organisations to ensure that an awareness of AIDS results in appropriate sexual behaviour.

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eISSN: 2078-5135
print ISSN: 0256-9574