HIV AND AIDS KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDES AMONG FORM THREE JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN KWENENG AND CENTRAL DISTRICTS
This article explores HIV and AIDS knowledge and attitudes of students in their final year of junior secondary school. Though a lot of studies have been carried out about youth and HIV it seems a few have focused on the attitudes of Junior Secondary school students. This category of students is most problematic because of sex related hormones that are combined with the developmental stage (Austin, 1995; DiClemente, 1996) that make teenagers risk takers as they experiment with everything including their bodies. A closed questionnaire was administered to 602 students from which 450 questionnaires were valid. The findings were analysed using descriptive statistics. The AIDS Risk Reduction Model (ARRM) and the Health Belief Models (HBM) are used to understand the current knowledge and attitude of form three students. The following are some of the findings: some students do not perceive themselves at risk of getting infected with HIV; most students still harbour negative attitudes towards HIV and AIDS as they want the status of a sibling who is HIV positive to be kept as a secret; despite evidence of stigma, a large percentage, 62% don’t think that HIV and AIDS is a punishment for an immoral life. These attitudes partially explain why pregnancy is still the leading cause of school-drop outs. The paper concludes that students are knowledgeable on HIV and AIDS issues but still harbour negative attitudes towards people living with HIV and AIDS. Therefore continued education to address stigma is necessary. The study recommends that the skills problem must be addressed in order to reduce the HIV and AIDS incidence rate.