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J Commun Dis. 2010 Jun;42(2):123-33.

HIV knowledge, attitudes and practices among 12th-grade students in southern India, before and after an HIV-education session.

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University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.


Education about sex and sexually transmitted disease is uncommon in southern India, and it is unclear whether classroom instruction in HIV can change student knowledge or attitudes.


To assess students' knowledge, attitudes, and practices about HIV before and after an educational session. 1,168 12th-grade students from four schools in the Tamil Nadu state of India participated in a one to two hour session on HIV. Students completed anonymous, Tamil-language questionnaires about HIV topics immediately before and after the session. Many students endorsed erroneous facts about HIV before the session, but correct survey scores increased by 24% afterwards. Thirty-five percent of students knew someone with HIV, and familiarity with an HIV-infected person was associated with greater pre-session HIV knowledge. HIV knowledge was equivalent in students who held stigmatizing and non-stigmatizing attitudes, but the session significantly reduced stigmatizing attitudes from 38% of students to 29%. One percent of students admitted to having had sex. The proportion of students who think classroom HIV education is important rose significantly from 80% before the session to 90% after. Indian 12th-graders lack some basic knowledge about HIV, but only a couple hours of education was necessary to significantly and substantially increase short-term knowledge. Education-but not factual knowledge per-se was associated with a decrease in stigmatizing attitudes. Because most 12th-graders reported not having had sex, high school may be an appropriate age for intervention. Most students desired HIV education in the classroom, and exposure to this education increased its acceptance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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