Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has become a major public health problem and has affected Sub-Saharan Africa heavily. Despite awareness campaigns, preventive measures, and more recently promotion of antiretroviral regimens, the prevalence of cases and deaths has not decreased significantly with mother-to-child transmission of HIV accounting for 20% of all HIV transmissions. HIV risk perception has been identified as an important antecedent for one’s adoption of protective behavior against contracting the disease. Available evidence had shown that knowledge alone is not enough pertaining to HIV/AIDS prevention and control.
Objective: To assess knowledge of HIV/AIDS, evaluate risk perception among antenatal attendees in Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Nigeria.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study conducted among 400 women attending antenatal care clinic (ANC) in Abakaliki using a systematic sampling technique. The clients were interviewed using a pre tested semi-structured interviewer administered questionnaire. Good knowledge of HIV transmission was assessed by the proportion of respondents who correctly answered 50% of the knowledge questions. Risk perception of HIV infection was assessed by the proportion of respondents who answered yes to questions on no risk at all, low and high risk respectively. Data analysis was done using SPSS statistical software version 20 and level of significance was determined by a p-value < 0.05.
Results: The mean age of respondents was 28±9 years. The majority (97%) were married and had formal education. All (100%) respondents were aware of HIV/AIDS but only 84% (those married with secondary education and above) had good knowledge of HIV/AIDS. Knowledge was significantly associated with marital status, educational level and occupation (p<0.05). Perceived low susceptibility to HIV infection was significantly associated with respondents’ marital status and educational level (p<0.05).
Conclusion: Knowledge of HIV/AIDS among the respondents was high. However, the low perceived susceptibility to HIV infection compared to actual risk is one of the major challenges to HIV prevention effort. There is need for intensification of mass media campaign and other public measures aimed at increasing knowledge on HIV perception and susceptibility.
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