|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 155-158
Knowledge about and attitude towards HIV/AIDS among first year medical students: A cross-sectional study
Arun V Joshi1, Kiran Nikam2, Bhagyashri R Hungund3, Rajagonda G Viveki1, Shashikant V Nikam4, AB Halappannavar1, Halaki Sunanda1
1 Department of Community Medicine, Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences, Belgaum, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Physiology, Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences, Belgaum, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Pathology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Biochemistry, Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences, Belgaum, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||19-Oct-2013|
Arun V Joshi
Department of Community Medicine, Belgaum Institute of Medical Sciences, Belgaum - 590 010, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major public health problem in India. It affects mainly young people in sexually active age groups. A number of knowledge, attitude, and practice studies conducted in different parts of India reveal widespread ignorance and misconceptions about the disease among young people. Medical students are the budding doctors of tomorrow and have just entered the noble profession. Thus, there is a need to assess the existing knowledge and attitude towards this HIV/AIDS among them. Objective: The objective was to assess the extent of knowledge and attitude towards HIV/AIDS among first year medical students of a government medical college in North Karnataka. Methodology: This was a cross-sectional study conducted among all (97) first year medical students of a government medical college in North Karnataka. After taking informed consent, the information regarding knowledge and attitude towards HIV/AIDS was collected from them using a predesigned, pretested structured questionnaire. Results: Of the 97 students who participated, 52 were males and 45 were females. All the students were aware of HIV/AIDS in terms of definition and causation. There was no statistically significant difference among males and females about their knowledge of and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS. Conclusion: Though the general level of knowledge of students about HIV/AIDS was not poor, they had a number of misconceptions about it.
Keywords: Attitude, HIV/AIDS, knowledge, medical students
|How to cite this article:|
Joshi AV, Nikam K, Hungund BR, Viveki RG, Nikam SV, Halappannavar A B, Sunanda H. Knowledge about and attitude towards HIV/AIDS among first year medical students: A cross-sectional study. J Sci Soc 2013;40:155-8
|How to cite this URL:|
Joshi AV, Nikam K, Hungund BR, Viveki RG, Nikam SV, Halappannavar A B, Sunanda H. Knowledge about and attitude towards HIV/AIDS among first year medical students: A cross-sectional study. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2013 [cited 2018 Jan 16];40:155-8. Available from: http://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2013/40/3/155/120059
| Introduction|| |
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a fatal illness caused by a retro virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which breaks down body's immune system, leaving the victim vulnerable to a host of life-threatening opportunistic infections, neurological disorders, and unusual malignancies. ,
It is estimated that during 2008-2009, there were 23.9 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in India with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 0.31%. HIV/AIDS is affecting mainly young people in the sexually active age group. Majority of HIV infections (88.55%) are found in the age group of 15-49 years, out of which 31.8% are in the age group of 15-29 years. 
Various studies conducted in different parts of India to assess the knowledge of and attitude towards HIV reveal a widespread ignorance and misconceptions about the disease among young adults. Hence, this study was undertaken to assess the extent of knowledge and beliefs of first year medical students, who have just entered this noble profession, along with the attitude toward this disease.
| Aims and Objectives|| |
The aim was to assess the extent of knowledge about and attitude towards HIV/AIDS among first year medical students of a government medical college in North Karnataka.
| Methodology|| |
The present study is a cross-sectional study conducted during the month of January 2012. The study participants were first year medical students who had just taken admission to the first year MBBS course. Out of 100 participants, 97 students participated in the study and 3 students were on a long leave.
The information was collected from them using a predesigned, pretested, and structured questionnaire which consisted of six parts. The questionnaire consisted of questions related to sociodemographic information, general knowledge about HIV/AIDS, knowledge regarding transmission of HIV/AIDS, their knowledge regarding treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, their attitude towards HIV/AIDS, and their source of information regarding HIV/AIDS.
Informed consent was taken from all the students who participated in the study. The students were encouraged to write only what is known to them and avoid cross-consultations among themselves and other references. They were also free to refuse to complete the questionnaire or any particular question(s). Confidentiality was ensured by not recording their names or any other information which would reveal their identity. The questionnaires were completed in the college lecture hall.
Before the start of the study, ethical approval was taken from the institutional ethics committee.
Rates and percentages were used to express the responses among the students. The comparison of the responses among male and female students was done using chi-square test.
| Results|| |
Out of 97 participants, 52 were males and 45 were females. All students were aware of HIV/AIDS in terms of definition and causation. The information regarding the knowledge about transmission of HIV/AIDS is presented in [Table 1] . All the study participants knew that HIV/AIDS does not spread by shaking hands with the HIV/AIDS-infected person. No statistically significant difference was found between boys and girls about the knowledge regarding the mode of transmission of HIV/AIDS [Table 1].
[Table 2] depicts the knowledge of participants regarding the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Ninety-eight percent of participants knew that HIV/AIDS can be prevented by the use of condoms.
[Table 3] reflects the attitude of students towards an HIV/AIDS-infected person. Twenty-four percent participants opined that an HIV-infected couple should not have their own children.
Media (95%) was the present leading source of information of participants regarding the present knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Friends, teachers, and doctors were the next important source of the present information regarding HIV/AIDS [Table 4]. However, teachers (91%) and the doctors (88%) were the preferred source of getting information regarding HIV/AIDS [Table 5].
| Discussion|| |
All the first year medical students who participated in the study had heard about HIV/AIDS and were aware of it, in terms of definition and causation. Most of the students knew that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted by sex, from an HIV-infected pregnant woman to her baby, by breast feeding, and blood transfusion. Similar results were shown by the study conducted among medical students in Bijapur,  among nursing students of Kolkata,  and among college students of Kerala.  Another study conducted by Kuruvilla among medical students showed that the male students had better knowledge regarding the transmission of HIV/AIDS than female students.  However, in our study no such difference was evident.
The present study brought out some misconceptions about the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Few students thought that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through mosquito bite (13%) and sharing common toilets (6%). These results were comparable with the study done by Basavayya  and in contrast with the study done by Udigiri et al.  A total of 36% students reported that HIV/AIDS can be cured, and 54% students were unaware of the availability of HIV/AIDS treatment. Majority of participants said that HIV/AIDS can be prevented by using condoms (98%), and 94% of them thought that HIV can be prevented by health education. The importance of sexual abstinence in the prevention of HIV infection was unrecognized by 48% of the participants. There was no statistically significant difference found between boys and girls regarding the knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention. The present study compares well with the study conducted in Kerala  among college students.
Eleven percent students said that an HIV/AIDS patient should be isolated while 23% participants thought that an HIV-infected couple should not have their own children. Similar results were shown by the study conducted in Kerala  in which 16% of students thought that HIV/AIDS patient should be isolated. In another study by Hansoon et al., in Kazakhstan, 77% of students were against the HIV-infected couple to have their own children. 
Media (95%) was the leading source of information for participants regarding the present knowledge about HIV/AIDS which is similar to the findings shown by the study conducted in Kerala  and Delhi. , Teachers (91.7%) and the doctors (88%) were the preferred source of getting information regarding HIV/AIDS. Thus in our medical education, the medical teacher, i.e., the doctor who is also a teacher has a key role in providing information regarding HIV/AIDS to our students.
| Conclusion and Recommendation|| |
Though the general level of knowledge of students about HIV/AIDS was not poor, they had a number of misconceptions about it. There is a need to consider the basic knowledge of the students about HIV/AIDS and to clear the misconceptions regarding the disease by the medical teachers. There is also a necessity to stress upon attitudinal issues about sensitive diseases like HIV/AIDS in the medical undergraduate curriculum. Role modeling by medical teachers may improve the knowledge and attitudes of the students toward HIV/AIDS patients.
| Acknowledgments|| |
We thank Director of Belgaum Institute of Medical sciences, Belgaum, for supporting us during the study.
We would also like to thank all the study participants who cooperated throughout the study.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]