KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDE OF ADOLESCENT SCHOOL STUDENTS TOWARDS HIV / AID IN CHENNAI CITY
R. GANESH*, M. DEENADAYALAN**, LALITHA JANAKIRAMAN***, S. BALASUBRAMANIAN****
Resident in Pediatrics, Childs Trust Hospital, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600034. *, Register in Pediatrics, Childs Trust Hospital, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600034. **, Childs Trust Hospital, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600034. ***, Senior Consultant Pediatrician, Kanchi, Kamakoti. ****
Knowledge about the spread of HIV and safe sexual practices has a critical impact on the prevention of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and is going to be a major tool in our battle against AIDS in this present decade. AIDS education to school children has been given a priority in the Phase II of the action plan of National AIDS Control Program (NACP). Hence we assessed the knowledge of and attitude towards HIV / AIDS among the adolescent school students in Chennai city. Subjects and Methods: We performed a cross sectional survey of 327 adolescent school students (154 boys and 173 girls, age: 15-17 years) using a structured questionnaire during the period February-March 2005. The schools were selected without randomization and the correct responses between boys and girls were compared using the Chi-square test. Results: Majority (98%) of students had heard about HIV and the common modes of transmission. However only 39% knew that AIDS is not curable at present. Though majority of our students know about AIDS, only three fourths were aware of the symptoms of STD's and only 40% knew that STD's are associated with increased risk for AIDS. In multivariable analysis, boys demonstrated a better knowledge of HIV / AIDS and STD's. The perception that sex education is an effective tool to prevent HIV was more prevalent amongst boys than girls (P <0.05) which is statistically significant. Awareness of symptoms of STD's was better among boys than girls (P <0.05) which is statistically significant. The most statistically significant parameter was regarding the protective role of condoms in the prevention of STD's amongst boys than girls (P <0.001). Boys tend to discuss sexual matters more with their friends than girls (P <0.01) which is statistically significant.
Conclusion
The level of knowledge regarding AIDS and the modes of transmission among school students in our study is fairly good but at the same time there is a substantial lacuna in the knowledge of and attitude towards HIV / AIDS and STD's amongst school going adolescent boys and girls in Chennai city in various aspects. The gap in knowledge between boys and girls in our study suggests the need to target the girl students in the National AIDS education and awareness campaigns.
Keywords
HIV, AIDS, awareness, school students
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