[Knowledge, attitude and practices of health personnel with regard to HIV/AIDS in Tamatave (Madagascar)]

V Hentgen, S Jaureguiberry, A Ramiliarisoa, V Andrianantoandro, M Belec
Bulletin de la Société de Pathologie Exotique 2002, 95 (2): 103-8

BACKGROUND: Health care workers are key players in the prevention and management of HIV-infection. We surveyed HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of health care workers in Tamatave (Madagascar), to assess the feasibility of voluntary counselling and testing for HIV infection in antenatal care.

MATERIALS AND METHOD: A Knowledge Attitude and Practice study was conducted during July 2000 in the antenatal health care centres and the hospital of Tamatave. The health workers completed a self-administrated questionnaire on HIV transmission, attitudes and practices regarding AIDS testing and counselling, HIV risk perception and attitudes regarding patients with HIV disease.

RESULTS: A 90% response rate was obtained, with completed questionnaires from 45 health care workers. The sample included physicians, midwives, nurses, medical students and nursing auxiliaries. Scientific knowledge about transmissibility of HIV infection was poor: transmission was believed possible by living together without having sex (7%), by breastfeeding a HIV-positive child (9%), by using toilets after a HIV-positive patient (13%) and by blood donation (76%). 73% of the health staff believed a child born of an HIV-positive woman would systematically be infected and interventions to reduce this risk were unknown. Sixty one per cent of the health-workers reported never having advised patients to be tested and less then 10% mentioned correct counselling precautions. Seventy nine percent believed that they were at risk of acquiring AIDS, mainly through occupational exposure. Negative attitudes towards HIV-positive patients were also noted: twenty per cent of the health workers mentioned that AIDS patients should be isolated in quarantine. Physicians and paramedical staff differed only in their better knowledge about transmissibility of HIV. Physicians had the same restrictive attitude towards patients with HIV as paramedical health workers and did not differ by their counselling practice.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study revealed gaps in the knowledge of health care workers about HIV infection. Before implementing voluntary counselling and testing in antenatal care, additional HIV/AIDS training for health staff seems necessary.

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