Indicator 4.7: "Comprehensive correct knowledge about AIDS among young people age 15-24 (2 ways to prevent AIDS and reject 3 misconceptions)"

Definition

The percent of respondents age 15-24 y.o. who correctly identify the two major ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV (using condoms and limiting sex to one faithful, uninfected partner), who reject the two most common local misconceptions about HIV transmission, and who know that a healthy-looking person can have HIV, based on 4.1 and 4.2.

Measurement Tools

A nationally representative general population survey.

What It Measures

HIV epidemics are perpetuated through primarily sexual transmission of infection to successive generations of young people. Sound knowledge about HIV/AIDS is an essential pre-requisite - albeit, often an insufficient condition – for adoption of behaviours that reduce the risk of HIV transmission. The purpose of this indicator is to assess progress towards universal knowledge of the essential facts about HIV transmission.

How to Measure It

This indicator is constructed from responses to the following set of prompted questions:

  • Can the risk of HIV transmission be reduced by having sex with only one faithful, uninfected partner?
  • Can the risk of HIV transmission be reduced by using condoms?
  • Can a healthy-looking person have HIV?
  • Can a person get HIV from mosquito bites?
  • Can a person get HIV by sharing a meal with someone who is infected?
  • This indicator is compiled from data collected for Indicator 4.1. and Indicator 4.2. 4.1 is comprised of two questions, while 4.2 is based on 3 questions. Only respondents who answer correctly on all five prompted questions are included in the numerator. The denominator is all respondents, regardless of whether they have ever heard of AIDS.

    Strengths and Limitations

    The belief that a healthy looking person cannot be infected with HIV is a common misconception that can result in unprotected sexual intercourse with previously infected partners.

    Correct knowledge of false modes of HIV transmission is as important as correct knowledge of true modes of transmission. For example, belief that HIV is transmitted through mosquito bites can weaken motivation to adopt safe sexual behaviour while belief that HIV can be transmitted through sharing food reinforces the stigma faced by people living with AIDS.

    This indicator is particularly useful in countries where knowledge about HIV/AIDS is poor because it permits easy measurement of incremental improvements over time. However, it is also important in other settings as it can be used to ensure that pre-existing high levels of knowledge are maintained.