HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes, sources of information and beliefs of high school students in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
This descriptive survey was carried out to gather information that could be used to assist in the development of an HIV/AIDS educational program as a way to promote adolescents' health and prevent diseases in the United Arab Emirates. The study examines the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and sources of information of high school students in Sharjah city regarding HIV/AIDS. Anonymous questionnaire with five sections: demographics, HIV/AIDS knowledge, sources of information, attitudes and beliefs was administered to 12th grade high school students from four schools in Sharjah. Analysis of findings showed that 87 percent of students knew that AIDS affects the body's immune system and 68 .5 percent knew that it is not inherited .The majority of students were aware of relationship between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. However, students lacked information in some areas as HIV/AIDS transmission routes. There was generally a negative attitude towards HIV/AIDS infected people. This was shown in students' responses to some statements that AIDS was "a punishment for those infected for their immoral acts". Moreover, students expressed unwillingness to live with HIV/AIDS infected people. Students were positive in applying prevention, facilitating proper treatment for the diseased and believed that HIV/AIDS education in schools is a necessity. Their HIV/AIDS sources of information were mainly from written materials (journals, newspapers and books). It was concluded that, generally, students in this study had a good knowledge, and some positive attitudes about AIDS. However, the concerns they expressed in relation to their fears of sharing, or living with HIV/AIDS infected individuals, and some of their beliefs, need to be addressed more in the education prevention programs. Students need to be more knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS prevention. They indicated desires for more knowledge, especially as they become aware of the increasing risk of HIV/AIDS among adolescents in the Emirates.