BMC public health 2016 08 2216(1) 847 doi 10.1186/s12889-016-3516-9
Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) regarding HIV/AIDS is one of the corner stones in the fight against the disease. Youths are most vulnerable to infection because they engage in risky practices due to a lack of adequate information. Thus, evaluating their KAPs will help in designing appropriate prevention strategies. This study was aimed at assessing the KAPs of senior secondary school students in Fako Division, Cameroon, on HIV/AIDS.
This was a cross-sectional study carried out on 464 students aged 13-25 years, selected by systematic quota random sampling from some secondary schools in Fako, from April to June 2014, to evaluate their KAPs regarding HIV/AIDS. Participants were drawn from one secondary school in each of the four health districts in Fako. Pre-tested questionnaires were administered to the students to obtain information about their KAPs on HIV/AIDS. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.0.
All respondents were aware of HIV/AIDS. Sources of information varied, the most common being sex education in school. The majority of participants demonstrated an adequate understanding of HIV transmission and prevention. However, misconceptions about routes of transmission were observed in 3.4 to 23.3 % of respondents. Risky behaviors were found among participants as about 60 % practice safe sex and 40 % reported not to. Up to 196 (42.2 %) respondents had a history of sexual intercourse of which 108 (56.25 %) had used a condom during their last three sexual encounters. About half of the respondents had negative views about HIV infected people. Students with medium (34.3 %) and high (62.1 %) levels of knowledge were more likely to display positive attitudes Although statistically not significant, we found that as knowledge increased the ability of respondents to report safer sex decreased (95 % CI, P = 0.922).
Students had a satisfactory level of knowledge on HIV/AIDS prevention. Those with adequate knowledge were more likely to display positive attitudes towards PLHIV. Having adequate knowledge did not imply engaging in safe practices. This study none-the-less highlighted some misconceptions about HIV transmission, intolerant and discriminatory attitudes towards PLHIV, and risky sexual practices among study participants which can be corrected by reinforcing sex education curriculum as sex education in school was their main source of information on HIV/AIDS.