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Psicologia, Saúde & Doenças

Print version ISSN 1645-0086


MATOS, Margarida Gaspar de et al. Knowlege and attitudes about HIV/AIDS issues of portuguese adolescents . Psic., Saúde & Doenças [online]. 2003, vol.4, n.1, pp.3-20. ISSN 1645-0086.

Social response to HIV infected people, and social response in HIV prevention is limited by the AIDS related stigma. Prevention of HIV/AIDS, as well as prevention of HIV/AIS infected social exclusion, is thus a key health issue. The way to highlight this matter implies the study of the "state of art" of the knowledge of adolescents about HIV/AIDS issues and theirs attitudes towards infected individuals, ranging from precaution to social exclusion (Potsonen & Kontula, 1999; Thompson, Currie, Todd, & Elton, 1999). This paper examines the way in which variables related to demographic factors, personal characteristics, peer relationships, parent relationships, and school involvement are associated with knowledge about transmission and attitudes to infected persons by adolescents. The study used data from the 1998 Portuguese sample of the European study HBSC ("Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children: a WHO Cross Cultural Study", Currie, Hurrelmann, Settertobulte, Smith, & Todd, 2000; King, Wold, Tudor, & Harel, 1996; Matos, Simões, Carvalhosa, Reis, & Canha, 2000). This survey is based on a self-completed questionnaire that is administered in schools. The HBSC survey includes pupils in the 6th, 8th and 10th years of high school (age M=14.1 years old, SD=1.7). Logistic regression models were used to consider the independent contribution of each explanatory variable to variation in attitude and knowledge about HIV/AIDS transmission. Results are expressed as odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals. It was noticeable in this study, the importance that schools can have in the discussion of accurate knowledge about HIV/AIDS transmission: if knowledge about transmission is not accurate, attitude towards infected people is less positive. Girls seemed to have a more positive attitude and better knowledge, as well as older adolescents. Adolescents with a medium socio economic status, a better expectation towards one's future, a better perception of schooling and a better perception of school achievement tend to show a more positive attitude towards HIV infected people, and a better knowledge about transmission. Parents involvement or at least parental occasional encouragement is also relevant. Adolescents' perception of wellbeing is related to their perception of a positive school ethos (Matos & Carvalhosa 2001b; Matos 2002), and to their probability to choose health related behaviours their life style (Nutbeam, Smith, Moore, & Bauman, 1993). Schools are handy settings to approach adolescents, and design interventions directed to allow pupils participation in the construction of their own health and positive attitudes towards others' in general and HIV infected people specifically. Focusing on the average Portuguese adolescent, traditional health education in Portuguese schools is not refined and needs to include first and second generation strategies for health promotion. It is still a lot of work to be done in the area of health education, namely an education towards a healthy sexuality. Then, issues such as communication skills, self concept enhancement, participation and problem solving and decision making are key issues in the so called second generation strategies in health education and promotion in schools (Matos, 1997; Matos 2002). An effort has to be made order to improve the possibility of a sense of affiliation and agency of adolescents in schools settings, as a way to increase their perceived positive school "ethos" and thus their subjective perception of wellbeing, sense of belonging, perception of self-efficacy and worthfulness and consequently their choices of healthier life style.

Keywords : Adolescents; Attitude; Family; HIV/AIDS; Peers; School; Transmission.

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