Objective: To assess the awareness and attitude of the general public toward people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Mangalore, a city in Coastal Karnataka. Design: Community-based cross-sectional study. Materials and Methods: The study population included 630 individuals aged 18 years and above. The information was collected using a semi structured pre-tested questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of 24 questions regarding awareness of the modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS (nine questions) and questions to assess the attitude toward People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) (15 questions). Statistical package SPSS version 11.5 was used, Chi-square test was conducted and P< 0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results: About one-third of the study population thought that one could get infected by merely touching an HIV positive individual. Approximately 45% stated that they would dismiss their maid on finding out her HIV positive status. About 54% were willing to undergo the HIV test. The respondents with less than secondary school education had a discriminatory attitude toward HIV positive people, with regard to them deserving to suffer, dismissing a HIV positive maid, hesitating to sit next to a HIV positive person in the bus, divorcing the infected spouse, and willingness to get tested for HIV, which was found to be statistically significant. Conclusion: Stigma among the general public was mostly due to fear of contracting the illness. Stigma does exist to significant degrees among the educated people, which was suggested by about 45% of the participants being willing to undergo the HIV test. There is a need for greater attempts toward making information regarding HIV/AIDS available to every individual of the society.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health