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close this bookActing Early to Prevent AIDS: The Case of Senegal (UNAIDS, 1999, 28 p.)
close this folderHas the response made a difference?
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View the documentKnowledge about AIDS and how to prevent it
View the documentSexual activity
View the documentCondom use
View the documentPrevalence of sexually transmitted diseases
View the documentPrevalence of HIV

Knowledge about AIDS and how to prevent it

AIDS awareness campaigns have clearly been doing their job. In repeat cross-sectional surveys in 1997 and 1998, over 95 percent of secondary school pupils and 99 percent of sex workers knew about AIDS and could name at least two correct ways of preventing it.

High proportions also knew about more complex issues such as asymptomatic infection. Four out of five students and close to 70 percent of sex workers knew that HIV could be transmitted by someone who looks perfectly healthy.

In the general population across the country as a whole, more men than women know about sexual transmission of HIV (81 percent of men versus 76 percent of women). However in urban areas there is no difference in knowledge between men and women. Nor is there any difference between men and women who have more than primary education.

Such high levels of knowledge demonstrate the success of the relentless information campaigns that have reached the Senegalese people everywhere from the classroom to the mosque to the radio to the marketplace. These information campaigns have not, however, done such a good job of reducing misconceptions. Up to a third of the various population groups questioned about knowledge and behaviour in 1997 and 1998 thought they could get HIV/AIDS from a mosquito bite or from sharing a toilet with someone who had AIDS.

The campaigns have, on the other hand, apparently been successful in fostering supportive attitudes to people living with HIV and AIDS. Three quarters of female students questioned in 1998 said they believed that HIV-positive students should be allowed to attend school.