Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of correctional officers towards inmates with HIV/AIDS

Ncoyo, Kholekile Dennis (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: HIV/AIDS has reached alarming proportions in correctional facilities world-wide, and continues to ravage the lives of inmates in these centres. Studies have shown that HIV prevalence in incarceration institutions is higher than in the general population, sometimes up to 10 times. This survey was brought about by an observation that correctional officers are at the forefront of delivery of services to inmates, and thus having more interactions with all offenders, including those that have illness and diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The purpose of this study was to explore the HIV/AIDS knowledge of correctional officers and establish their attitudes and perceptions towards inmates infected with the virus. A sample of about 120 correctional officers employed at Kirkwood correctional centre was targeted to participate in this survey through completion of self-administered questionnaires. A total of 93 completed questionnaires were returned, equating to a 77.5% response rate. This number eventually translated to 67.5% with the exclusion of 13 questionnaires that were unusable and therefore discarded. Questions asked included (a) those about their basic knowledge of the pandemic such as the HIV/AIDS demographic distribution, (b) their in-depth knowledge such as the modes of transmission of the HIV, (c) their understanding of treatment modalities for HIV infection, and (d) about the distinction between HIV and AIDS. In exploring their attitudes and perceptions, respondents had to reveal how they perceived the HIV-infected, such as whether these inmates are a threat to officers, a burden to the state, and about whether these officers feel comfortable sharing their environment with such offenders. Furthermore, officers were assessed on, and had to declare, their own perception of risk to contracting HIV and whether they feel entitled to extra remuneration for looking after HIV positive inmates. Overall, on analysis of the results, correctional officers displayed a significant level of ignorance. A majority of them could not distinguish between HIV the virus and the syndrome AIDS. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents do not even know what the acronym HIV stands for. Even though a small percentage, there are still those officers who believe that AIDS is curable. Also, safety and security issues are very much of a concern for the majority of correctional officers as they believe HIV-positive inmates are threat to them. The study further shows correctional officers had no understanding of the significance of adherence to antiretroviral medication. Again, these officers displayed neutrality when it comes to issues of confidentiality regarding disclosure of an HIV positive status of an inmate. These observations indicate pitfalls in information and educational efforts aimed at curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and therefore the ability to mitigate its impact on correctional centres.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die voorkoms van MIV/Vigs in die korrektiewe dienste neem met rasse skrede toe en volgens studies kan die voorkoms van MIV in gevangenisse tot tien keer so hoog as onder die algemene bevolking wees. Indien die vookoms so hoog is as wat voorspel word, het dit ernsitge implikasies vir Korrektiewe Dienste. Die doel van hierdie studie was om die kennisvlakke ten opsigte van MIV in die gevangenisdiens in te win en om ook die gesindheid van owerhede, teenoor diegene wat MIV-positief is, te probeer vasstel. „n Steekrpoef van 120 offisiere in die gevangenisdiens is vir die ondersoek gebruik en 93 voltooide vraelyste is terug ontvang en verwerk Resultate toon aan dat die bestuur van MIV/Vigs volgens die repondente veel te wense oorlaat. Daar is „n redelike mate van onkunde onder gevangenisoffisiere ten opsigte van MIV/Vigs en „n redelike aantal deelnemers was nie eens instaat om tussen MIV en Vigs te onderskei nie. Bykans twee-derdes van die deelnemers het nie eens die betekenis van die afkorting Vigs verstaan nie Die implikasies van bogenoemde bevinding word deegliks bespreek en sekere aanbevelings word aan die hand gedoen ten einde MIV/Vigs meer doeltreffend binne Korrektiewe Dienste te bestuur.

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