What do young adults know about the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Findings from a population based study in Karachi, Pakistan.

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: HIVAIDS is spreading globally, hitting the younger generations. In Pakistan, the prevalence of HIV in high-risk subpopulations is five per cent or higher. This poses a serious threat of a generalised epidemic especially among the younger population. In the wake of HIVAIDS epidemic this is worrying as a well informed younger generation is crucial in restricting the spread of this epidemic. This study investigated Pakistani young adults' (male and female) knowledge and awareness of the HIV/AIDS disease. Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study of 1,650 male and female adults aged 17-21 years living in Karachi was conducted using a structured questionnaire. A multi-stage cluster sampling design was used to collect data representative of the general population in an urban area. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed separately for males and females. Results: Of 1,650 subjects, 24 per cent (n = 390) reported that they had not heard of HIV/AIDS. Among the males, those with a poor knowledge were younger (AOR = 2.20, 95 per cent CI, 1.38, 3.49), with less than six years of schooling (AOR = 2.46, 1.29 4.68) and no computer at home (AOR = 1.88, 1.06 3.34). Among the females, the risk factors for poor knowledge were young age (AOR = 1.74, 1.22, 2.50), low socio-economic status (AOR = 1.54, 1.06, 2.22), lack of enrolment at school/college (AOR = 1.61, 1.09, 2.39) and being unmarried (AOR = 1.85, 1.05, 3.26). Conclusion: Alarming gaps in knowledge relating to HIV/AIDS were detected. The study emphasises the need to educate young adults and equip them with the appropriate information and skills to enable them to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. However, taboos surrounding public discussions of sexuality remain a key constraint to preventive activities.


BMC Infectious Diseases