Health Students' Knowledge and Infectious Disease Exposure: Findings From a Cross-Sectional Study in Namibia

Int Health. 2019 Nov 13;11(6):616-618. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihz052.


Background: Namibia has recently introduced a number of health training programmes that expose students to infectious disease risks such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB). We explored the knowledge of students in relation to HIV and TB and whether or not there was evidence of exposure.

Methods: We conducted two cross-sectional surveys of Namibian health students (medicine and pharmacy) in 2018.

Results: There was a strong association between knowledge and exposure to HIV, but not TB (i.e. explicit exposure versus latent). Regression analysis suggested the time-related risk (age/year of study) to be predictive of knowledge in both studies. The training rotation in the respiratory unit predicted TB knowledge and post-exposure prophylaxis predicted HIV knowledge.

Conclusions: Knowledge of TB and HIV appears mostly related to the duration of study in health students. Exposure or specific experience may enhance knowledge. Future training in infection control may be better focussed on improving knowledge in earlier years.

Keywords: HIV; health training; knowledge; risk prevention; tuberculosis.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Namibia
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology*
  • Students, Health Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tuberculosis / therapy*