Although adequate knowledge about HIV infection and effective antitransmission measures, such as taking universal precautions in the handling of blood and other body fluids, are important factors in minimizing the risk of HIV transmission in the healthcare setting, little has been reported on the knowledge of nurses with regard to HIV infection and their attitude toward patients with AIDS in Iran. The aim of the present study was to assess these matters.
A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted from March to April 2003. Included were 1098 nursing staff (registered nurses, registered midwives, and auxiliary nurses) from 8 university teaching hospitals affiliated with the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences.
Registered nurses and midwives had a significantly higher level of knowledge about HIV infection than did auxiliary nurses (χ2 = 16.4; df = 1; P<.001). With regard to the causative agent of AIDS, nurses holding a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing (MSN) had a significantly higher level of knowledge than did auxiliary nurses (χ2 = 18.6; df = 1; P<.001). Women more often answered correctly that it is not possible to identify HIV-infected patients by their appearance during the early stages of disease than did men (χ2 = 17.52; df= 1; P<.001). Although 50.7% of respondents had previously cared for patients with AIDS and 54.3% had participated in education programs on AIDS, nearly half stated that they would not want to have to care for patients with AIDS and that, if assigned to care for such a patient, they would ask to be assigned elsewhere.
Our finding that those who scored best on the questionnaire were midwives and single female nurses holding an MSN who had previously cared for HIV-infected patients scored best might indicate that use of selective education campaigns is the most suitable education strategy. The effectiveness of targeted education programs on HIV/AIDS should be repeatedly evaluated in the future.
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