Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate HIV knowledge and its relation to HIV stigma among health science students and pharmacists in Guyana, South America. This study also evaluated how the Public Health Strengthening in Guyana Project's (PHSGP) HIV/AIDS/STI educational initiatives influenced HIV knowledge levels among health science students at the University of Guyana.
Methods: A total of 119 individuals, consisting of pharmacists (n=42) and health science students (n=77) participated in this cross-sectional study. All participants completed validated measures of HIV knowledge and HIV stigma.
Results: Overall, health science students scored high on knowledge about HIV risk factors and modes of HIV infection, but were less knowledgeable about more complex HIV treatment issues such as adherence and drug resistance. Students who had received educational HIV training had significantly higher levels of HIV knowledge than those who had not received training. Pharmacists had excellent knowledge regarding HIV risk factors and modes of infection, but had some important gaps in knowledge regarding the importance of HIV medication adherence and drug resistance. Overall, low levels of HIV stigma were endorsed, and those with higher HIV knowledge reported lower HIV stigma.
Conclusions: Although the HIV curriculum has enhanced HIV knowledge, gaps in HIV knowledge remain, such as complex HIV treatment issues. The results of this study are discussed within the context of the challenges of HIV capacity building in resource-poor countries.
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