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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

What do young adults know about the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Findings from a population based study in Karachi, Pakistan

Syed Farid-ul-Hasnain12*, Eva Johansson23 and Gunilla Krantz24

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Global Health, IHCAR, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden

4 Dept of Community Medicine and Public Health, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-38

Published: 26 March 2009

Abstract

Background

HIVAIDS is spreading globally, hitting the younger generations. In Pakistan, the prevalence of HIV in high-risk subpopulations is five per cent or higher. This poses a serious threat of a generalised epidemic especially among the younger population. In the wake of HIVAIDS epidemic this is worrying as a well informed younger generation is crucial in restricting the spread of this epidemic. This study investigated Pakistani young adults' (male and female) knowledge and awareness of the HIV/AIDS disease.

Methods

A population-based, cross-sectional study of 1,650 male and female adults aged 17–21 years living in Karachi was conducted using a structured questionnaire. A multi-stage cluster sampling design was used to collect data representative of the general population in an urban area. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed separately for males and females.

Results

Of 1,650 subjects, 24 per cent (n = 390) reported that they had not heard of HIV/AIDS. Among the males, those with a poor knowledge were younger (AOR = 2.20; 95 per cent CI, 1.38, 3.49), with less than six years of schooling (AOR = 2.46; 1.29 4.68) and no computer at home (AOR = 1.88; 1.06 3.34). Among the females, the risk factors for poor knowledge were young age (AOR = 1.74; 1.22, 2.50), low socio-economic status (AOR = 1.54; 1.06, 2.22), lack of enrolment at school/college (AOR = 1.61; 1.09, 2.39) and being unmarried (AOR = 1.85; 1.05, 3.26).

Conclusion

Alarming gaps in knowledge relating to HIV/AIDS were detected. The study emphasises the need to educate young adults and equip them with the appropriate information and skills to enable them to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. However, taboos surrounding public discussions of sexuality remain a key constraint to preventive activities.