Original Research

Knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding HIV/AIDS among senior high school students in Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, Ghana

Seraphine M. Dzah, Elvis E. Tarkang, Prosper M. Lutala
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1875 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v11i1.1875 | © 2019 Seraphine M. Dzah, Elvis E. Tarkang, Prosper M. Lutala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 July 2018 | Published: 09 May 2019

About the author(s)

Seraphine M. Dzah, Department of Population and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana
Elvis E. Tarkang, Department of Population and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana; and, HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Network, Kumba, Cameroon
Prosper M. Lutala, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi


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Abstract

Background: In Ghana, youths aged 15–24 years constitute the group most vulnerable to HIV infection. Inadequate knowledge, negative attitudes and risky practices are major hindrances to preventing the spread of HIV.

Aim: This study sought to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding HIV/AIDS among senior high school (SHS) students.

Setting: Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, Ghana.

Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional design was adopted, using a validated self-administered questionnaire, to collect data from a stratified sample of 294 senior students selected from three participating high schools in August 2017. The data collected were analysed using Stata version 12. Descriptive and inferential statistics were at a significance level of 0.05.

Results: Among the participants, 61.6% had good knowledge about HIV/AIDS, 172 (58.5%) showed positive attitudes towards people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 79.1% reported HIV-related risky practices. We found a significant association between age and attitudes (p < 0.05). Poor knowledge was associated with being Muslim (aOR = 1.51 and 1.93; CI 1.19–1.91; p = 0.00) and being a student from school ‘F’ senior high school (F SHS) (aOR = 1.93; CI 1.71–2.18; p = 0.00). Bad attitude towards PLHIV and HIV was associated with ages 15–19 years (aOR = 3.20[2.58–3.96]; p = 0.03) p confirmed; and single marital status (aOR = 1.79[1.44–2.23]; p = 0.00). Bad practices were associated with ages 15–19 years (aOR = 1.72[1.41–2.11]; p = 0.08), belonging to the Akans ethnic group (aOR = 1.57[1.26–1.97]; p = 0.00) or being single (aOR = 1.79[1.44–2.23]; p = 0.00). Associations between misconceptions and HIV transmission were found: HIV can be transmitted by a handshake (aOR = 3.45[2.34–5.68]; p = 0.000), HIV can be cured (aOR = 2.01[2.12–5.04]; p = 0.004) and HIV/AIDS can be transmitted by witchcraft (aOR = 3.12[3.21–7.26]; p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Participants generally had inadequate knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS, manifested negative attitudes towards PLHIV and also engaged in risky practices that might predispose them to HIV transmission. Our findings underscore the need for culturally adapted and age-oriented basic HIV information for youths in the metropolis on misconceptions about HIV transmission, negative attitudes of students towards PLHIV as well as the risky practices of students regarding HIV.


Keywords

knowledge; attitudes and practice; HIV/AIDS; senior high school students; Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana

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