Knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and sources of hiv/aids information among university students at two tertairy institutions in South Africa
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The incidence of HIV/AIDS appears to be stabilizing in South Africa. However, it is stabilizing at an extremely high number. The South African youth are the most vulnerable to the virus with the main route of transmission being heterosexual intercourse. In South Africa KwaZulu-Natal is the epicenter for the virus, while in the Western Cape has the lowest HIV/AIDS prevalence. The aim of the study was to determine the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and sources of HIV/AIDS information among university students at two tertiary institutions in South Africa. Method: The study was a quantitative, cross - sectional, descriptive and comparative survey. Students from the University of the Western Cape and the University of KwaZulu Natal (Westville Campus) participated in the study. The study instrument was a questionnaire which was complied from other questionnaires based on literature. The questionnaire consisted of questions to gather information pertaining to the students’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and sources of HIV/AIDS information. The questionnaires were then tested for validity and reliability for South African students.The response rate for the questionnaires was 66% (N = 663). The main findings from the study showed that university students had a good general knowledge on HIV/AIDS.However students scored poorly in modes of HIV transmission. UKZN students scored higher than UWC students in the knowledge questionnaire. Males scored lower than females and there was also a significant association noted between age and knowledge.Students from both universities had a positive attitude towards people living with HIV/AIDS. There was a significant association between age and gender in terms of attitudes. Students from UWC deemed themselves as having less of a chance of contracting the disease compared to students from UKZN. UWC on the other hand students participated in more riskier behaviours than UKZN students. The media was the main source of HIV/AIDS information for students (79.9%). In terms of religiosity many students stated that the attend places of worship infrequently (35%).Recommendations: campus health care facilities need to be more proactive in informing the students about HIV/AIDS; alcohol and substance abuse needs to be addressed along with HIV/AIDS; campuses should draw up a full course on HIV/AIDS, courses to empower female students need to be offered and ongoing research needs to be done in this area to evaluate the effectiveness of the programmes being run.