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Knowledge, opinions and attitudes towards AIDS in rural Africa (Senegal, Cameroon, Burundi). Current research



Knowledge, opinions and attitudes towards AIDS in rural Africa (Senegal, Cameroon, Burundi). Current research



Societes d'Afrique and Sida 1996(13): 11-13



A survey conducted by the Center for Study and Research on African and Asian Populations in 2 villages in Senegal's Kaolack region, 5 villages in Cameroon's Eastern Province, and 2 hill areas in Burundi investigated the hypothesis that AIDS-related knowledge and attitudes are influenced both by HIV prevalence in the area and gender relations. In all, the data set was comprised of 2526 individual questionnaires, 796 family questionnaires, and 267 qualitative individual interviews. As expected, both men and women from Burundi--a country with high HIV seroprevalence--were more knowledgeable about AIDS than those in Cameroon and Senegal--countries with low HIV prevalence. However, even when economic activity, educational level, and migration were controlled, men in Cameroon and Senegal were significantly more likely than women to be knowledgeable about AIDS. Although stigmatization of persons with AIDS was strong in all 3 countries (because of a perceived association with prostitution), this attitude was more widespread in the 2 low-prevalence countries. The main sources of information about AIDS were, for men, the mass media, and, for women, interpersonal relations. In all 3 countries, personal exposure to someone with AIDS was significantly associated with male gender, higher educational status, employment outside the primary sector, and emigration experience. In Senegal and Cameroon, where personal confrontation with people with AIDS is less common than in Burundi because of lower HIV prevalence, people tended to rely on indirect sources of information about AIDS. The tendency for men to have a broader range of interpersonal contacts than women presumably accounts for men's greater knowledge levels in these countries. In Burundi, in contrast, where the epidemic has a high prevalence, both men and women are likely to have personal encounters with those with AIDS and thus have equally high knowledge levels.

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