Community knowledge and information communication gaps on HIV/AIDS in Iringa Municipality, Tanzania
This study was carried out to determine community knowledge and information communication gaps on HIV/AIDS in Iringa Municipality, Tanzania. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were used to collect data from both the community and health workers. Results showed that eighty-one percent of the respondents were knowledgeable of at least one mode of HIV/AIDS transmission. Sexual intercourse, sharing of sharp instruments, blood transfusion and mother to child transmission were known to be the most common ways on how HIV is transmitted. The community knowledge on the symptoms of AIDS was poor. The main sources of information on HIV/AIDS were health facilities, radio, televisions, religious leaders and relatives. The information covered in most of the health education programmes included prevention, treatment and care for AIDS patients. The understanding of HIV/AIDS messages was found to vary significantly between respondents with different levels of education and marital status. It was higher among those with at least a primary school education than in those without education. Singles and individuals with primary or post-primary education sought more new information than those who had no education at all. Among the respondents, 59.7% reported to have difficulties in adopting and utilising HIV/AIDS educational messages. Singles had a better understanding of information provided than married respondents. However, the former had more difficulties in
adopting and utilising health education information. Poor utilisation of the HIV/AIDS messages was attributed to culture, poverty, and illiteracy. The majority of the respondents, 370 (92.8%) reported to often carry out discussions with their family members (including children) on HIV/AIDS. It is concluded that health education should identify
community needs and address economic and socio-cultural barriers to facilitate education utilisation and behavioural changes required in HIV/AIDS prevention and control in Tanzania.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, knowledge, information communication, Tanzania
Tanzania Health Research Bulletin Vol. 8 (2) 2006: pp. 101-108