HIV/AIDS awareness among first year pharmacy students and the role of the university

12 January 2011

As HIV/AIDS continues to spread and affect the lives of millions of people, a sense of urgency has developed about the imperative need to stop the epidemic. Education is the key to change knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. There is currently a gap in education programmes targeting youths of ages 18-24 years, for example, those enrolled in tertiary institutions. The aim of the study was therefore to establish the level of HIV/AIDS awareness among undergraduate pharmacy students at the University of Limpopo (Medunsa Campus)/Tshwane University of Technology Schools of Pharmacy. A structured questionnaire was administered to pharmacy students on entry to the programme. Although the students of 2003, 2004 and 2005 obtained mean percentage HIV/AIDS awareness scores in the range of 70%-80%, they had inadequate knowledge of some transmission routes, events that occur when HIV invades the body, the “window period” and some symptoms. These knowledge gaps should be addressed by universities by integrating HIV/AIDS policies and education fully into all aspects of their planning, operations and teaching.