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Sex Transm Infect. Apr 2005; 81(2): 108–112.
PMCID: PMC1764667

Attitudes to HIV and HIV testing in high prevalence areas of China: informing the introduction of voluntary counselling and testing programmes

Abstract

Objectives: To assess knowledge and attitudes towards HIV and its testing among pregnant women and health professionals in Yunnan Province, south west China, to inform the introduction of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) programmes.

Methods: The study design was a cross sectional survey using self completion questionnaires. It was carried out in 12 hospitals in four high prevalence areas of Yunnan Province. Questionnaires were completed under examination conditions by health professionals, and at the routine antenatal examination by pregnant women.

Results: Completed questionnaires were obtained from 840 pregnant women and 780 health professionals. Knowledge of HIV and its modes of transmission were good in health professionals but patchy in pregnant women. The weakest area in both groups was knowledge of maternal to child transmission. There was strong support for compulsory testing in pregnancy and at the premarital examination. But attitudes towards HIV/AIDS were negative: 23% of health professionals and 45% of pregnant women thought HIV was a disease of "low class and illegal" people, 48% of health professionals and 59% of pregnant women thought that HIV positive individuals should not be allowed to get married, and 30% of the health professionals were not willing to treat an HIV positive individual. Levels of knowledge were higher and attitudes more positive in younger health professionals and better educated pregnant women.

Conclusions: Community education programmes and intensive training of health workers must precede or accompany VCT programmes. They must particularly address negative attitudes towards people with HIV. Pilot VCT programmes are now under way in two of the areas studied.

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Selected References

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