Awareness and attitude of the general public toward HIV/AIDS in coastal Karnataka
Public aspects of medicine
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Abstract<b>Objective:</b> To assess the awareness and attitude of the general public toward people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Mangalore, a city in Coastal Karnataka. <b>Design:</b> Community-based cross-sectional study. <b>Materials and Methods:</b> The study population included 630 individuals aged 18 years and above. The information was collected using a semi structured pre-tested questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of 24 questions regarding awareness of the modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS (nine questions) and questions to assess the attitude toward People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) (15 questions). Statistical package SPSS version 11.5 was used, Chi-square test was conducted and <i>P</i>&lt; 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. <b>Results:</b> About one-third of the study population thought that one could get infected by merely touching an HIV positive individual. Approximately 45&#x0025; stated that they would dismiss their maid on finding out her HIV positive status. About 54&#x0025; were willing to undergo the HIV test. The respondents with less than secondary school education had a discriminatory attitude toward HIV positive people, with regard to them deserving to suffer, dismissing a HIV positive maid, hesitating to sit next to a HIV positive person in the bus, divorcing the infected spouse, and willingness to get tested for HIV, which was found to be statistically significant. <b>Conclusion:</b> Stigma among the general public was mostly due to fear of contracting the illness. Stigma does exist to significant degrees among the educated people, which was suggested by about 45&#x0025; of the participants being willing to undergo the HIV test. There is a need for greater attempts toward making information regarding HIV/AIDS available to every individual of the society.