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Assessing Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of HIV Amongst University Students

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This study was carried out at the University of Bamenda found in Bambili Village. The aim of this work was to assess the level of knowledge, attitudes and practices of HIV/AIDS among students in the University of Bamenda. Data was collected using a self-administered standardized questionnaire on knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding HIV/AIDS.

Two hundred students from the Science and Arts departments agreed to participate in this study. Knowledge was assessed on a scale of 24 using causative agents, mode of transmission and prevention while attitude was assessed on a scale of 13 based on behaviour towards HIV/AIDS patients. Patience was also based on how well the respondents will relate socially to HIV infected persons.

Among the 200 respondents who participated in the study, the knowledge scores ranged from 2-24. Considering knowledge scores, science students were more knowledgeable (53.7%) than arts students (46.3%). Similarly, females (53%) were more knowledgeable than males (47%).  Up to 66.5% of the students had a positive attitude towards HIV/AIDS patients. The attitude scores were not significantly different (p>0.05) by gender and faculty.

Fewer students (33.5.5%) will behave negatively towards HIV persons. With regards to risk behaviours associated with HIV transmission, 32 (16%) students had at least one risky behaviour related to unprotected sexual exposure. High-risk behaviour was significantly higher (p<0.05) among males (62.5%) than females (37.5%).

This study found out that most Bamenda University students had good knowledge and a positive attitude towards HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS patients. Thus HIV/AIDS health education efforts should be intensified to keep up the good attitudes and improving on the practices among students at the University of Bamenda.                    

Transmission of HIV                                                                                  

 HIV is transmitted from person to person through several ways which could be summarized as follows;

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected person: Vaginal, anal or oral sex without the use of a condom with infected people accounts for a vast majority of sexually transmitted HIV in the world. However, oral route has a low transmission rate.
  • Usage of unsterilized sharp objects which have been used on an infected person is a means of transmission.
  • Through infected blood: when infected blood is donated to a person through blood transfusion, the disease can be transmitted.
  • Mother to child transmission: babies born to HIV infected mothers can be infected with HIV before, during birth or through breastfeeding after birth. Source: Smart and Strong, (CDC, 2014)

1.1.3. Life cycle of HIV

When HIV enters your body through any of the above means, it recognizes specific receptors of the T cells that carry the CD4 antigen on their surface which include the (gp120, gp41) and specific host-cell surface receptors such as CD4 receptor (Brik et al., 2003). The virus binds to the chemokine co-receptors CXCR4, or CCR5 resulting in conformational changes in the envelope proteins.

This fusion creates a pore through which the viral capsid enters the cell (Warnke et al., 2007). Following the entry into the cell, the RNA of the virus is reverse-transcribed to DNA by the first virally encoded enzyme, the reverse transcriptase. The viral DNA enters the nucleus where it is integrated into the genetic material of the cell by the integrase, a second virally encoded enzyme.

Activation of the host cell leads to the transcription of the viral DNA into mRNA. The mRNA is then translated into viral proteins and the third virally encoded enzyme, namely HIV protease, is required to leave a viral polyprotein precursor into individual mature proteins. The viral RNA and viral proteins assemble at the surface of the cell into new virions.

The virions bud from the cell and are released to infect other cells. All infected cells are eventually killed because of this extensive cell damage, from the destruction of the host’s genetic system to the budding and release of virions (Brik, 2003).            

Research Objectives

1.3.1. General objective

The main objective is to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of HIV amongst university students.

1.3.2. Specific objectives

  • To evaluate the knowledge of transmission and prevention of HIV.
  • To identify the practical behaviour of students towards HIV positive people
  • To know the attitudes of university students towards HIV patients
  • To know if university students know their HIV status.

1.4. Hypothesis

Assessing the knowledge, attitudes and practices of university students is important in preventing the spread of HIV.



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