HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs among Iraqi Women


Background: Since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 major societal changes have increased the possibility for a greater prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Iraq. With the potential for this increase, it is pertinent that stigma and knowledge levels HIV/AIDS are examined to help guide prevention efforts.Materials and Methods: A sample of 209 women, whose ages ranged between 15-49 years, attending a private obstetrical and gynecology clinic in a middle class neighborhood of Baghdad were subjected to a questionnaire between November 1st, 2009 and April 30th, 2010. The questionnaire was designed to assess level of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitude towards persons whom have HIV/AIDS. Results: Only about half of the respondents believed that condoms could help to lower risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (48%), and even fewer believed that abstinence could do so (50.91%). Higher education levels (ie: a college degree), as opposed to lower education levels, did not significantly impact correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS (p > 0.05). Most women indicated that they would not want a teacher with HIV/AIDS to continue teaching (69%) and would not buy fresh vegetables from a shopkeeper, who had HIV/AIDS (72%).Conclusion: Women in Iraq appear to have limited knowledge about transmission of HIV and misperceptions about AIDS independent of their level of education. This, combined with an overall negative attitude towards those with HIV/AIDS, poses a serious threat to stigmatization and risk of transmission.Recommendations: Open discourse about the misconceptions regarding HIV/AIDS and awareness programs targeted at expanding knowledge of HIV may be important steps toward combating this problem.