Public knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in Bahrain: A cross-sectional study
Introduction: HIV/AIDS is one of the major health problems worldwide. Despite the low prevalence of HIV in Bahrain, educational and awareness programs remain highly important in controlling and preventing the spread of the disease. This study aimed to assess the public’s knowledge, risk perceptions, and attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in Bahrain.
Methodology: A self-administered questionnaire-based survey was administered to and completed by 1,038 Bahraini adults.
Results: Although the average general awareness among participants was good (63%), some misconceptions and erroneous beliefs were common, including knowledge of mode of transmission and high risk groups. Participants’ attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients varied but were mostly negative; 60% of respondents agreed to isolating HIV/AIDS patients in workplaces and schools, and 52.4% of them thought that HIV is a divine punishment. The vast majority of the participants (84.4%) believed in the role of religion in limiting the spread of the disease. Though the local media was the least utilized source of information, the general opinion of the participants about the role of Bahraini government agencies and organizations in combating HIV/AIDS was positive.
Conclusions: Though the Bahraini public had good knowledge about HIV/AIDS, there were misconceptions that need to be addressed. A major finding of this study was the negative attitudes towards HIV/AIDS patients. To have successful HIV control programs, negative attitudes towards HIV patients and the disease should be minimized. Existing and newly proposed health education and awareness program in Bahrain should address the issue of negative attitudes towards HIV/AIDS observed in this study.
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