Health care workers' knowledge on HIV and AIDS: universal precautions and attitude towards PLWHA in Benin-City, Nigeria

A O Aisien, M O Shobowale
Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice 2005, 8 (2): 74-82

OBJECTIVE: Health care workers are at risk of becoming infected with blood-borne pathogens, including HIV. The study was designed to test health care workers knowledge about HIV transmission, universal precautions and their attitude towards people living with HIV and AIDS.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.

SETTING: University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin-City, Nigeria.

PARTICIPANTS: 120 Health Care Workers (HCWs) who were occupationally exposed to patient's blood and body fluids completed a self administered structured questionnaire between March and May 2004. The HCWs consisted of 50 doctors drawn from obstetrics and gynaecology (25) and surgery departments (25). 70 nurses from accident and emergency unit (23), labour ward (18), labour ward theatre (4), main surgical theatre (22) and family planning clinic (3).

RESULTS: The mean age of the health care workers and duration of practice were 39.8 +/- 8.0 years and 14.0 +/- 8.2 years respectively. Though many of the respondents demonstrated good knowledge about HIV transmission, more than 25% of them thought that HIV could be transmitted through saliva, vomit, faeces and urine. They over estimated their risk of acquiring HIV infection following needle stick injury, exposure of mucocutaneous membrane and intact skin to infected blood and body fluids. There was poor adherence to universal precautions which was attributed to lack of knowledge and availability of materials in 48% and 60% of the workers respectively. Over 40% of the health care workers exhibited discriminatory attitude towards people living with HIV and AIDS. There was no statistical significant difference (p > 0.05) in the knowledge of HIV and AIDS transmission and infection prevention practices amongst the doctors and nurses. Similarly there was no significant difference in their discriminatory attitude towards PLWHA.

CONCLUSION: We recommend that seminars, workshops should be organized on a continuous basis for health care workers on universal precautions, stigma and discrimination reduction. Those trained should train others on the job. The institution should also make available materials needed to protect workers against the risk of acquiring pathogenic infection in the course of providing health services to their patients.

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