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Title: Knowledge and Attitude of HIV/AIDS among Students in Shillong
Authors: Longkumer, Imtilemla
Keywords: School of Social Sciences
Ramila Bisht
Issue Date: 2005
Abstract: AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) today is a harsh reality. Education and awareness programme are believed to be the key to HIV/AIDS prevention particularly for adolescents and the youth. However, despite the growing importance of HIV/AIDS prevention activities, data from health research all over the world indicate that people especially young people are increasingly becoming vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections including HIV infection. This study is an attempt to understand and explore the levels of HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS among school students, and recommend suitable programmes for students. The study is based on primary data collected from two schools in Shillong, Megahalya. Data have been collected through quantitative research techniques. In the study, boys (50) outnumber girls (30) in the population. Majority of the students fall under the age group of 14-16 years 92.0 percent boys and 91.3 girls. Most of the students belong to Christians religion (86.3 percent). Majority of the students had parents with secondary level of education. Most of the students' fathers are employed in the government set up and mothers of the students are mostly housewives. A very important finding of the study was that almost all the students who participated in the survey had heard about HIV/AIDS. However, the study identified substantial deficiencies in knowledge of AIDS in certain key issues. The study revealed that a significant proportion of students do not know the basic facts relating to HIV transmission indicating that awareness programmes and campaign has not been adequate in reaching the general masses especially adolescents and young youths. Students have a lot of misconceptions about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, its transmission, prevention and cure. The present study reveal that majority of the girls did not know correctly that the infection is caused by a virus called Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) which subsequently leads to the disease AIDS. It was also observed that the Knowledge about prevention and protection against AIDS was higher among boys than girls. Boys reported that condom is the effective barrier of HIV transfer during sexual intercourse while only some few girls were aware of it. Also a high proportion of the respondents especially girls indicated that they thought HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through kissing, sharing eating utensils and stepping on the stools/urine of the infected person which shows a lack of proper knowledge and awareness among the students. The study finds that the attitudes of the girls were more sympathetic towards AIDS patients than boys. Most of the girl students agreed that an infected person should not be denied employment, should allow an infected person to continue studies and accepting services rendered by an infected persons which shows understanding and sympathy towards the AIDS patients. In relation to sources of information, the study finds that mass media were important sources of information. There has hardly been any contribution on knowledge of HIV/AIDS, sex and sexuality from parents and school authorities in increasing the knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sex education programs. Findings also show that none of the school had organized any programs on AIDS awareness indicating limited role of educational institutions in sex education and HIV/AIDS related issues. Sex education programmes have the potential to undermine the traditional role of educational institutions as moral guardians of the young and as an agency for social control. Thus the study revealed that there has hardly been any contribution on knowledge of HIV/AIDS, sex and sexuality from parents and school authorities in increasing the knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sex education programs. Infact, absence of HIV/AIDS and sex education programs in the institution of the sources of information as mentioned by the respondents had been felt strongly. This needs to be addressed properly and calls for HIV intervention programs and innovative health education programs for creating awareness among the student youth.
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