Percent of population who correctly identify ways of preventing HIV

Percent of population who correctly identify ways of preventing HIV

Percent of population who correctly identify ways of preventing HIV

Percentage of men and women aged 15 to 49 years who correctly identify ways of preventing the transmission of HIV and who reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission.

The PEPFAR (2009) and UNAIDS (2009) version of this indicator is constructed from responses to the following set of prompted questions:

  1. Can the risk of HIV transmission be reduced by having sex with
  2. only one uninfected partner who has no other partners?
  3. Can a person reduce the risk of getting HIV by using a condom every time they have sex?
  4. Can a healthy-looking person have HIV?
  5. Can a person get HIV from mosquito bites?
  6. Can a person get HIV by sharing food with someone who is infected?

Numerator: Number of respondents who gave the correct answer to all five questions.

Denominator: Number of all respondents. Those who have never heard of HIV and AIDS should be excluded from the numerator but included in the denominator.

PEPFAR and UNGASS recommend that the first three questions should not be altered. Questions 4 and 5 ask about local misconceptions and may be replaced by the most common misconceptions in the target country or area. Examples include: “Can a person get HIV by hugging or shaking hands with a person who is infected?” and “Can a person get HIV through supernatural means?”  An answer of “don’t know” should be recorded as an incorrect answer. Scores for each of the individual questions (based on the same denominator) are required as well as the score for the composite indicator.  For additional background on this indicator, see PEPFAR (2009), UNAIDS (2009), and WHO et al. (2006).

This indicator is calculated as:

(Number of respondents who gave the correct answer to all five questions / Total number of respondents) x100

Data Requirement(s):

Population-based survey with necessary questions to ascertain respondents’ knowledge about HIV transmission. The indicator should be disaggregated as separate percentages for males and females, by age groups, and by most at-risk populations. PEPFAR and UNGASS specifically target the indicator for 15 to 24 year olds and recommend further disaggregation for the age groups 15-19 and 20–24 years.

Population-based survey tools, such as the AIDS Indicator Survey (AIS), Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), or Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).

HIV epidemics are perpetuated through primarily sexual transmission of infection to successive generations of young people. Sound knowledge about HIV is an essential pre-requisite, although often an insufficient condition, for adoption of behaviors that reduce the risk of HIV transmission. The belief that a healthy-looking person cannot be infected with HIV is a common misconception that can result in unprotected sexual intercourse with infected partners. Rejecting major misconceptions about 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 safer sexual behavior, while belief that HIV can be transmitted through sharing food reinforces the stigma faced by people living with HIV. This indicator is particularly useful in countries where knowledge about HIV and AIDS is poor because it permits easy measurement of incremental improvements over time. However, it is also important in other countries as it can be used to ensure that pre-existing high levels of knowledge are maintained.

This indicator does not measure actual behaviors regarding HIV transmission and people’s correct knowledge does not necessarily translate into altering their high-risk behaviors. The recommended questions for this indicator are somewhat limited in scope, for example, there are no questions about preventing mother-to child (PMTCT) transmission during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breast milk or exposure to blood, particularly for health care workers. Note: Indicator #9 in this section of the database refers specifically to knowledge of ways for PMTCT of HIV.

male circumcision, HIV/AIDS, knowledge

Women may be less informed about prevention of HIV transmission in settings where gender social norms limit women’s access to health care services and information.  Women may be reluctant to seek out information that could make them look sexually active if unmarried or promiscuous, and health care workers may not discuss HIV prevention (e.g., use of male or female condoms) with women clients. Where rates of female literacy are low, women may not benefit from media and communication strategies that rely on printed materials.  The UNAIDS (2010) agenda for women, girls, and gender equality calls for national AIDS authorities and ministries of health to incorporate gender quality into HIV prevention and policies, which includes a gender quality education component and comprehensive sexuality education.

PEPFAR, 2009, The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: Next Generation Indicators Reference Guide, Washington, DC: USAID/PEPFAR.

UNAIDS, 2009, Monitoring the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS: Guidelines on Construction of Core Indicators, Geneva: UNAIDS.

UNAIDS, 2010, Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV, Geneva, UNAIDS.

WHO, UNAIDS, The Global Fund, CDC, USAID, UNICEF, MEASURE Evaluation, US Dept. of State: OGAC, 2006, Monitoring and Evaluation Toolkit: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, Geneva: WHO.

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