HIV/Aids Perceptions, Attitudes and Awareness of Under-graduate Students
At the end of 2002, the number of people living with HIV/Aids worldwide was estimated at 42 million. Of these, 3, 2 million were children under the age of 15 years (UNAIDS, 2002). HIV/Aids is one of the leading causes of death in Sub-Saharan Africa and is a major contributor to the infectious disease component of the present and future disease burden. In South Africa, the number of deaths due to AIDS is expected to increase from 120 000 in 2000 to between 545 000 and 635 000 in 2010 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2000). The central question to be examined revolves around the perceptions, attitudes and awareness of HIV/Aids among under-graduate students at the North-West University in South Africa. The objective of this research was to assess the students' perceptions, attitudes and awareness regarding HIV/Aids. A random sample of under-graduate students was used in a cross-sectional design. A semi-standardised questionnaire as well as a biographical questionnaire was administered. The questionnaire was proofed to be reliable. Cronbach Alpha coefficient of 0, 81 was obtained. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. The Pearson correlation coefficient indicated that there is a relationship between the biographical variables and the awareness, perceptions and attitudes of undergraduate students regarding HIV/Aids. Results indicated that students experienced and perceived differences with regards to their biographical variables in terms of their perceptions, attitudes and awareness regarding HIV/Aids. Differences were also found between different study modules and study years of students. The findings revealed a great gap of knowledge on HIV/Aids existing among the diverse group of students. While some students had a detailed knowledge of the disease and its prevention, others were either completely ignorant about it or were in denial of its existence. Recommendations are proposed for future research, policy making and practice in the area of HIV/AIDS and the management thereof in the working environment.
Keywords: HIV/Aids Perceptions, Attitudes and Awareness, Under-graduate Students
Prof Christo de Wet Van Wyk
Director, School of Behavioural Sciences, North-West University