Knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about STD/HIV/Aids education among primary and secondary public school teachers in Nairobi and Machakos districts, Kenya
Wambua, Elizabeth W
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Children aged less than 15 years comprise 50% of Kenya's population while adolescents aged 10-19 years are 20% of the total population. Youth between 10-14 years comprise the population that is relatively free of AIDS and is in many ways ''The Window of Hope" for Kenya and indeed the region of Sub-Saharan Africa (1). Protecting these children and adolescents from HIV infection is therefore the most important strategy for slowing the HIV epidemic. Majority of the youth aged 10-19 years attend school. Therefore, STD/HIV/AIDS education in schools is an important preventive strategy. Teachers are important role models for the youth and can teach the youth how to avoid being infected with STDs and HIV. All available means possible to combat the . . spread of HIV and STDs among the youth should be undertaken urgently otherwise Kenya'S plan to become an industrialised nation by the year 2020 may be hampered. Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and Machakos district were chosen as the study areas. Nationally the HIV prevalence rate was 14% in 1998, while it was 16% and 12% in Nairobi and Machakos districts, respectively. Nairobi is a densely populated urban centre with approximately two million inhabitants and almost 70% of school-age children are enrolled in schools. On the other hand, Machakos district consists of a mixture of rural and peri-urban populations. It had an estimated population of about 906,444 people by end of 1998. A total of 5,718,244 primary pupils were enrolled in Kenyan schools in 1996. Of these, 233,006 pupils and 152,618 pupils were enrolled in primary schools in Machakos district and Nairobi" district, respectively. This difference was due to the fact that Machakos district had more Primary schools than Nairobi District. This was a cross-sectional survey in which both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used. It was hoped that this study would shed light on teachers' knowledge attitude and beliefs concerning STD/HIV/AIDS education in primary and secondary schools in Kenya. A total of 674 teachers from 57 schools in the two districts cited above were interviewed by means of a self-administered structured questionnaire to assess their Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about STD/HIV/AIDS education. Focus group discussions and In-depth interviews were carried out for the qualitative data collection exercise. The findings revealed that majority of the teachers had adequate knowledge on STD/HIV/AIDS but a substantial proportion of them had some misconceptions about HIV transmission. Teachers' STD/HIV/AIDS knowledge was statistically associated with their age and academic qualifications. Almost 30% of teachers were unsure of the government's policy concerning AIDS education to schools. Teachers had positive attitudes towards the introduction of STD/HIV/AIDS education and recommended upper primary as the class and 10-12 years as the age to introduce it. Teachers cited lack of training on STD/HIV/AIDS, the stigma associated with AIDS, the government's lack of commitment and inadequate teaching materials as hindrances to the STD/HIV/AIDS education. This study concluded that a substantial proportion of teachers (34.3%) do not have adequate knowledge on STD/HIV/AIDS.-Therefore, in-service training on STD/HIV/AIDS should be given to teachers. Specific IEC materials e.g. books and pamphlets for teachers should be availed in schools to improve their knowledge on STD/HIV/AIDS. An evaluation of the existing STD/HIV/AIDS curriculum will need to be carried out in the next one or two years to determine its impact on students STD/HIV/AIDS knowledge and behaviour.