University students' knowledge of, and attitudes towards, HIV and AIDS, homosexuality and sexual risk behaviour: A questionnaire survey in two finnish universities

Teija Korhonen, Jari Kylmä, Jarmo Houtsonen, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki, Tarja Suominen

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Summary This study describes Finnish university students' knowledge and attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, homosexuality and sexual risk behaviour. Finnish-speaking students were randomly selected from all registered students at two universities in Finland (N=9715, n=950). The data were collected by using a modified version of the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Nursing AIDS Study Questionnaire on sexual risk behaviour developed by Held and Chng. The total response rate was 35% (n=333). The data were analysed using quantitative statistical methods. Normally distributed data were analysed by t-test and one-way ANOVA, with Bonferroni corrections. Non-normally distributed data were analysed using the Mann-Whitney U-test and Kruskal-Wallis test, followed by a post-hoc test. The majority of students were familiar with HIV and AIDS, including its mode of transmission. However, there were still some misconceptions concerning HIV and AIDS. The oldest students and women had a more positive attitude towards people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). Of patients with HIV or AIDS, intravenous drug users were perceived most negatively. Male students had more homophobic attitudes. Students who reported that religion had an important role in their lives had significantly stricter attitudes towards sexual risk behaviour. Students' knowledge correlated positively with general attitudes towards HIV and AIDS. Knowledge about HIV and AIDS will lead to more positive attitudes towards HIV and AIDS as a disease, towards those infected as well as homosexual people. There is a need to focus on preventive health care and sexual health promotion by educating young people and changing their attitudes towards sexual risk behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-675
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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