Aim: the current study is focused on the investigation of the level of knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of healthcare students regarding AIDS. It is also making an attempt to clarify the role of the health authorities keen to provide protective measures and preventive strategies to tackle the AIDS epidemic. Due to their previous education and clinical experience, the selected sample is regarded to be more sensitized towards the HIV infected carriers and patients that the general population.
Methods: The study sample is comprised of 200 healthcare students, randomly assigned according to the study design. A questionnaire with opened and closed questions has been used for the study. The questionnaire is comprised of a range of questions on demographic data, on knowledge acquisition, on the sexual preferences, beliefs and practices and attitudes of the sample on AIDS.
Results: the data analysis indicated that the level of knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of the healthcare students is quite sufficient regarding the methods of the virus transmission, the natural history and the social consequences of the disease. Insufficient knowledge is recorded regarding the clinical and laboratory findings as well as the theraqpeutial treatment of the disease. Almost all the sample admitted to have adopted a healthy sexual behavior, due to the risk of contracting the disease in an adverse case and the majority responded positively regarding the use of condoms. It is rather encouraging to mention that a high percentage of the sample would be willing to have an HIV carrier/patient in their home or in their friendly social environment; meanwhile, they would be rather unhappy and reluctant to treat an AIDS patient in their ward.
Conclusions: according to the findings of the research, there is an imperative need to adopt new preventive measures for combating the AIDS epidemic. Targeted education campaigns to the general population, to high risk groups as well as to health personnel are of paramount importance for safeguarding the expansion of the disease.
Key words: AIDS, HIV, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, healthcare students