The relationship between attitudes and prevention knowledge of HIV/AIDS amoung matriculation students.
The present study sought to understand the relationship between attitudes and prevention knowledge of HIV I AIDS among matriculation students. HIV infection rates has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa and has serious consequences for individuals, particularly for adoiescellts as they make up the largest percentage of the vulnerable age group aged between 15 and 29. Given the high risks that adolescents are faced with, many awareness and prevention programmes have been implemented. These programmes have focused particularly on attitudinal and behavioural change towards HIV I AIDS prevention. The reason for this is that all sexual behaviour is mediated, facilitated and or justified by cognitions and beliefs (Vanwesenbeeck, Bekker & Van Lenning 1998). The sample was selected from a boys school, which chose to remain anonymous and a girls high school in Westville, Durban. Questionnaires aimed at assessing knowledge regarding the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS were administered. Questionnaires aimed at assessing their attitudes towards prevention of HIV/AIDS were also administered to learners. Learners had been exposed to awareness and life skills programmes as part of their curriculum. Festinger's (1957) theory of cognitive dissonance was used as a framework to understand the relationship between one's attitudes and behaviour. The findings indicated that most respondents had adequate knowledge regarding HIV I AIDS spread and prevention. The results also indicated that there was a correlation between knowledge and attitudes but it was not a strong relationship suggesting that there may have been external factors that may have impacted on the relationship thus placing adolescents at a relatively high risk to the HIV infection. This according to Festinger's (1957) theory suggests that there is some inconsistency between attitudes and behaviour towards HIV I AIDS prevention amongst learners. The findings of the study also highlight the need for future research in this area, which would better inform and improve intervention programmes that have been targeted at adolescents in high schools.