Knowledge and attitudes of non-occupational HIV post-exposure prophylaxis amongst first- and second year medical students at Stellenbosch University in South Africa

Ncube, Nondumiso, B. Q. ; Meintjes, Willem A. J. ; Chola, Lumbwe (2014-11)

CITATION: Ncube, N. B. Q., Meintjes, W. A. J. & Chola, L. 2014. Knowledge and attitudes of non-occupational HIV post-exposure prophylaxis amongst first- and second year medical students at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 6(1): 1-9, doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v6i1.665.

The original publication is available at http://www.phcfm.org

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

Article

Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a worldwide problem, with 68% of infected people residing in sub-Saharan Africa. Antiretroviral therapy is used as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent infection in cases of occupational exposure, and use has recently been expanded to nonoccupational exposure. Studies have demonstrated a lack of awareness of non-occupational PEP (NOPEP) in the general population. Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate knowledge and attitudes towards availability of, access to and use of NO-PEP amongst first- and second-year medical students. Setting: Participants were medical undergraduates of Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape of South Africa who were registered in 2013. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study of 169 students was performed. Data were collected using self-administered questionnaires handed out in a classroom in August 2013. Self-reported knowledge and attitudes towards NO-PEP and barriers to access to and use of NO-PEP were analysed using frequency tables. Associations between self-reported and objective knowledge of NO-PEP were analysed by odds ratios. Results: Over 90% of students had good knowledge on HIV transmission, and about 75% knew how it can be prevented. Twenty eight per cent (n = 47) of students reported knowledge of NO-PEP; 67% reported hearing about it from lecturers, whilst 1% reported hearing about it from their partner. Students who knew the correct procedure to take when a dose is forgotten were 2.4 times more likely to report knowledge of NO-PEP than those who did not know what to do when a dose is forgotten (p = 0.029). No other associations were statistically significant. Conclusion: Students had positive attitudes towards the use of NO-PEP and also identified barriers to its use. Despite good knowledge of HIV prevention and transmission, knowledge on NO-PEP was poor.

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