20 October 2007

Lack of HIV and AIDS education hounds Al Ain students

May 5 – May 18, 2007
Issue 22

There is an insufficient knowledge on the issue of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) among the Grade 12 students of Al Ain as well as a lack of support for the patients who have the disease, Dr. Michal Grivna, Assistant Professor at the Department of Community Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UAE University found out.

In their research entitled "Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs among UAE High School Students regarding HIV/AIDS," Dr. Grivna and his peers discovered that only 89% of males and 92% of females believe that HIV is a virus, while 57% of males and 60% of females consider AIDS as a disease. The study was participated in by 1903 students from 18 schools in Al Ain (1525) and Abu Dhabi (378). Out of the respondents, 57% were UAE nationals while 99% are Muslims.

" The main goal of our present study was to act upon the results of our first survey in order to reduce the frequency of HIV transmission among young Emiratis and other Arabs in the UAE by improving knowledge about HIV and AIDS prevention among Arab high school students in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi. A second goal included helping train medical students in research methodology, AIDS educational methods, and methods of evaluation of educational interventions for health promotion. A third goal was to provide research-based recommendations for future HIV and AIDS teaching for the Department of Preventive Medicine and School Health Authorities," he said.

Only 19% of males and 9% of females adhere to the fact that mosquito bites can cause an HIV transmission. About 95% of males and 96% of females thought babies can inherit their mother's disease. Some 71%, on the other hand, insisted on having HIV tests, and 12% would report to the police if they had the virus during a premarital intercourse.

In lieu of this, Dr. Grivna's team had conducted an intervention programme to rectify the presumptions of the students regarding the virus and the disease. "Prior to the intervention, there were many misconceptions of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and stigmatizing attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS. Overall, there were highly significant improvements in both knowledge and attitudes after the intervention."

"We recommend that this educational program should be given to all high school students, and perhaps also to university students. The program should be given by individuals who have received appropriate training in conducting the workshops, as these are essential in helping to modify attitudes. Since the time requirements are minimal, all schools should be able to include HIV/AIDS educational interventions of this nature in their programs."

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