Author(s): Thanavanh B, HarunOrRashid M, Kasuya H, Sakamoto J, Thanavanh B, HarunOrRashid M, Kasuya H, Sakamoto J
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Abstract INTRODUCTION: Inadequate knowledge, negative attitudes and risky practices are major hindrances to preventing the spread of HIV. This study aimed to assess HIV-related knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) of high school students in Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). METHODS: A cross-sectional study on unmarried male students aged between 16 and 19 years old was undertaken in 2010 to evaluate their KAPs. We selected 300 eligible grade VII students through systematic random sampling from different high schools in one province of Lao PDR. RESULTS: The majority of students surveyed were aware that HIV can be transmitted by sexual intercourse (97.7\%), from mother to child (88.3\%) and through sharing needles or syringes (92.0\%). Misconceptions about transmission of HIV were observed among 59.3\% to 74.3\% of respondents. Positive attitudes towards HIV/AIDS were observed among 55.7\% of respondents. Nearly half of the surveyed students (45.3\%) said that they would be willing to continue studying in a school with HIV-positive friends, and 124 (41.3\%) said they would continue attending a school with HIV-positive teachers. Ninety-four (31.3\%) students had a history of sexual intercourse, and 70.2\% of these students had used a condom. However, only 43.9\% said they used condoms consistently. Students with medium and high levels of knowledge were 4.3 (95\% CI=2.1-9.0, P<0.001) and 13.3 (95\% CI=6.5-27.4, P<0.001) times more likely to display positive attitudes towards people living with HIV. Similarly, safe practices related to safe sex were also observed among students with medium (OR=2.8, 95\% CI=0.9-8.8, P=0.069) and high levels of knowledge (OR=1.9, 95\% CI=0.6-6.2, P=0.284). More than three-quarters of students mentioned television and radio as major sources of information on HIV/AIDS. CONCLUSIONS: Despite adequate knowledge about HIV/AIDS among the school students, misconceptions about routes of transmission were found. Negative attitudes to HIV/AIDS and risky practices were also present. Educational programmes with specific interventions are recommended to increase KAPs and to prevent new HIV infections among students in Lao PDR.
This article was published in J Int AIDS Soc
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research