Knowledge of HIV/AIDS among women in rural Ugandan villages
Linda Johanson, EdD, MS(n), RN, CCNE
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Purpose: Rates of HIV have been decreasing in Uganda, however these rates, attributed to behavior change through education, have slowed in recent years (Hearst, Kajubi, Hudges, Maganda, and Green, 2012). It is unclear how much education about this issue reaches remote rural villages in the country of Uganda, and how the condition is understood by the people who live there. Women in sub-saharan Africa have a disproportionate risk for HIV infection (Harrison, 2014). Basic correct understanding of the transmission, risk, symptoms, and treatment for HIV/AIDS will impact prevention behaviors for women in this country. Ultimately control of HIV/AIDS impacts global health. Assessment of knowledge is the first step for health care professionals to implement strategies that might impact beliefs and behaviors.
Methods: Using a convenience sample of household women in two rural villages in Uganda, focus groups were assembled and interviewed. In Rutooma, a mountain village in the western mountains of Uganda, the focus group consisted of 25 women ranging in age from 20-58. The second focus group was assembled in the village of Nampunge, which is located in the Central Region of Uganda. The group there consisted of 33 women ranging in age from 18-65. The women were asked through an interpreter about their perceptions of the risk factors for HIV/AIDS, the difference in HIV and AIDS, the symptoms, prevention, and treatment. Discussions were translated, recorded, and analyzed for the scope and accuracy of responses.
Results: Respondents were overall gregarious and seemed eager to participate in the focus groups. Both sessions lasted approximately 90 minutes, and most of the participants provided input to the discussion. The group appeared to concur with one another on most of the information shared. There were three overall themes extracted from the focus groups:
1. The women of these two rural villages had mostly accurate, but basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS. They were most aware of transmission and prevention, and had obtained this knowledge by word of mouth. They were less clear on the difference between HIV infection and AIDS and the exact nature of treatments.
2. The main concern expressed about HIV/AIDS was access to treatment (anti-retroviral therapies), testing, and prevention. They were aware of common strategies for prevention, however cultural barriers interfered with implementation. Their partners, for example, refused to wear condoms, and unfaithfulness of partners was a shared concern. Abstinence was not seen as an option.
3. More than the concern about HIV/AIDS was the concern for access to reliable and effective contraception, which they called "family planning". This theme infiltrated almost every effort to discover their knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and there were many questions and request for help surrounding this concern.
Conclusion: These results are important for HIV/AIDS prevention strategies in rural Uganda. Knowledge appears to be accurate, however limited access to treatment and testing as well as a cultural impediment to behaviors that would control transmission present challenges.
Event Theme: Influencing Global Health Through the Advancement of Nursing Scholarship
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