K. Ye Myint, K. Saw Naing, M. Hanni

University Malaysia Sabah (MALAYSIA)
HIV/AIDS is a global public health concern. In Malaysia, the first case of HIV was diagnosed in 1986, and the rise in HIV/AIDS has continued unabated. By December 2009, 87,710 confirmed HIV infected cases,15,317 AIDS cases and 13,394 HIV/AIDS related deaths have been reported The majority of reported cases were in the age group of 20–39 years, the potentially more productive segment of the country's population. In order to identify the populations which are at most risk for HIV, information on knowledge about HIV and the risk behaviours related to the transmission of HIV is important. Taken together, the main research question was what is the current level of knowledge and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS among the medical students.

(i) To assess knowledge of and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS infection among the undergraduate medical students of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, (ii) To determine factors affecting perceptions towards HIV/AIDS in the study population.

This is a cross sectional survey conducted at the school of medicine, Universiti Malaysia Sabah in June and July 2010. A piloted questionnaire was distributed to all Year Three and Year Five medical students on their first day of attendance. Questionnaire items were developed after an extensive literature review and consultations with faculties. Verbal consent was obtained prior to beginning the questionnaire and confidentiality was assured. Feedback on knowledge of HIV/AIDS was given including prevention of needle stick injury and immediate management of accidental needle stick injury by the investigators of this research project after Questionnaire was filled in. For data analysis, descriptive statistics were used for the profile of respondents. Means and standard deviations were computed for continuous variables, while percentages for categorical variables. Data was analysed by SPSS software (version 16)

A total of 155 students were interviewed, of whom 55.5% were females and the age ranged between 19 and 25 years. The majority are Chinese (41.3%), followed by Malays (39.4%), 43% were Muslims and 30.3% were Buddhists. Regarding knowledge on transmission of HIV, 86.4% knew that close contact was not infectious. 74.7% knew that diagnosis of HIV infection was not specific by positive HIV test kit. Regarding knowledge on high risk groups of HIV infection, only 7.8% were aware of higher risk of infection in singles. 65.2% knew that transmission occurred during breast feeding. Only 24.5% knew that intrauterine transmission did not occur 94.2% knew that HIV can be prevented by condom. Regarding attitude on health education 70.3% knew that health education reduces the number of students with sex activity at younger age. Regarding attitude on confidentiality, only 45.5% knew that patients did not have the right to conceal HIV results from doctors.

The present study shows that the level of knowledge on HIV/AIDS among medical students in Universiti Malaysia Sabah is inadequate. It is suggested that an education program on HIV/AIDS prevention be implemented to improve the level of HIV knowledge.