Assessing HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitude and perceived risks of professional nurses in a psychiatric hospital, Western Cape, South Africa
Makaudze, Tsitsi Regina
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As South Africa continues to experience the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS globally, co-occurring mental illness poses challenges for public health. Mental illness has increased among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), as infected individuals succumb to the psychological stress and trauma of the disease. Key research issues, not yet well established, relate to whether professional nurses, working in psychiatric hospitals in South Africa, are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to provide effective mental healthcare services, given the increase in mental illness of PLWHA. An increase in mental illness translates into an increase in demand for psychiatric services by PLWHA. There is a paucity of research on HIV/AIDS knowledge of professional nurses working in psychiatric hospitals in South Africa, despite the established acknowledgement of the increase of mental illness amongst PLWHA. The aim of this study was to assess the HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitude and perceived risks of professional nurses working in a psychiatric hospital in the Western Cape, South Africa. A quantitative, descriptive survey design, using an all-inclusive sampling method, was used to select 121 professional nurses employed at a psychiatric hospital in Western Cape to participate in the study. The objectives of the study were to: describe professional nurses’ knowledge of HIV/AIDS; describe the attitudes of professional nurses towards PLWHA and mental illness; and determine professional nurses’ perceived HIV risks in a psychiatric hospital.