Perception of HIV/AIDS by Primary School Pupils in Thika Municipality, Thika District, Kenya.
Mando, Kenneth Maina
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The increase in incidence of the HlV/AIDS among men and women in their early and mid twenties calls for urgent but effective HIV/AIDS prevention programs targeted at the youth. More than 20 million people have lost their lives to the disease. In Kenya. the pandemic has been declared a national disaster. over 2.2 million Kenyans are already living with HIV and about 1.5 million Kenyans have died from HIV related diseases. This study was on perception of HIV/AIDS by primary school pupils in class 5-8. This descriptive crosssectional study was carried out in Thika Municipality of Thika District, Kenya. The I-IIV/AIDS prevalence in the district stood at 34 percent in 2001, the highest in Central Province. A total of 465 pupils from 12 schools were interviewed. a stratified random sampling was done and data collected using self administered questionnaires. Data was processed using SPSS and Ms Excel Computer package. Chi -- square test was done on the data to show the relationships between various variables. Variations and percentages were compared using t-test for proportions. HlV/AIDS was perceived as a reality by (96.6%) of the respondents. However, even with this. a majority (59.8 %)still believed that the ongoing campaign was a plan to stop sexual intercourse enjoyment by young people. The study showed that females (43.5%) had better perception compared to males (38.1 %).However this was statistically non significant (x2=1.216, df=l, p>0.05) showing perception does not depend on gender. Of all the mentioned, sources of information, media gave most information on condoms use. There was a non-significant relationship between the perception of HIV/AIDS and the source of information (X'= 10.1 l,df=6, p=>0.05). Age category 12-13 years had the highest percentage of those with good perception (46.3 %), although poor perception was high (44.7 %) at age category 18-19 years, (x2=6.09, df =4, p-0.05). This was statistically non significant indicating there is no relationship between the age category and perception on HIV/AIDS. Public schools had a higher percentage of pupils with good perception, (42.1 %) compared to (239 %,) from private schools. however chi-square test gave a anon significant association (x = 0.313, df=1, p>0.05). Distribution of the study subjects by gender was also not significant (t=0.608,df=463,p>0.05). However, the following were among aspects shown to be significant: age distribution (x 2=356.98,df=9,p<0.001),knowledge about existence of IIIV/AIDS (t--21.5,df--463,p<0.001),source of information with media topping the list (x,2=85.l,df--4,p<0.001) and majority maintained that HIV/AIDS campaign is a scheme to stop the youth from enjoying themselves (t=4.35,df--463,p<0.001).from this study most of the respondents indicated having not had sexual intercourse (73.8%). This means that if the pupils can be helped to adopt abstinence or safer sexual practices in their lives they could be safe from the deadly scourge. The findings of this study provide crucial information on the perception of HIV/AIDS by the young people, which may significantly help in the planning of effective prevention and control programs against the pandemic.