School-based sex education and knowledge of HIV among young adults in Albania

Type Conference Paper - Public health and the environment
Title School-based sex education and knowledge of HIV among young adults in Albania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Background: Young adults account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide; one in three people living with HIV/AIDS are between 15 and 24 years old. By 2002, there were more young adults living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (430,000) than in other industrialized nations, including Western Europe and North America (240,000). Sex education is a key element for reducing risky sexual behaviors among youth. Data and Methods: Data from the 2002 population-based Albania Reproductive Health Survey (ALRHS) were used to assess knowledge of HIV/AIDS and the effect of school-based sex-education courses on knowledge among 15-24-year-old women (n= 2,030). ALRHS is a face-to-face, household-based survey of reproductive-age men and women conducted using a multi-stage sampling design. Results: Despite recommendations to include HIV in school curricula, just 55% of young women had received in-school education on the topic. Most had heard of HIV/AIDS (96%), but knowledge indicators were significantly higher among women who reported in-school HIV-education than those without such education: knowledge of HIV testing locations (21% vs. 11%, p=0.02), knowledge of asymptomatic infection (65% vs. 48%, p=0.01), knowledge of incurability (92% vs. 86%, p=0.08), and correct identification of both condoms and monogamy as effective methods of prevention (78% vs. 66%, p=0.02). Conclusion: General awareness of HIV/AIDS was high but specific knowledge was greater among young women who had received in-school education on the disease. Greater efforts must be made to increase in-school HIV-education; for youth who leave school early, alternative routes of HIV-education must be identified.

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