Original Research

Knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards people with HIV and AIDS among private higher education students in Johannesburg, South Africa

Natasha Khamisa, Maboe Mokgobi, Tariro Basera
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 21, No 1 | a991 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v21i1.991 | © 2020 Natasha Khamisa, Maboe Mokgobi, Tariro Basera | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2019 | Published: 24 March 2020

About the author(s)

Natasha Khamisa, Department of Public Health, School of Engineering, IT, Science and Health, IIE MSA, Johannesburg, South Africa
Maboe Mokgobi, Department of Psychology, School of Social Science, IIE MSA, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tariro Basera, Médecins Sans Frontières, Rustenburg, South Africa


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV and AIDS) is a global health and social problem, with South Africa having an estimated overall prevalence rate of 13.5%. Compared to young male participants, young female participants have been reported to have less knowledge about HIV and AIDS, including prevention strategies, and this is associated with risky sexual behaviours and negative attitudes towards condom use.

Objectives: The study investigated gender differences in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards HIV and AIDS among 542 private higher education students in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Method: Participants completed an online structured questionnaire measuring knowledge, attitudes and behaviours as well as demographics (including age, gender and relationship status).

Results: The results indicate that overall there were no significant differences between male and female students in terms of HIV and AIDS knowledge. However, female students had significantly less knowledge with regard to unprotected anal sex as a risk factor for HIV and AIDS. In addition, young female students reported condom use at last sex less frequently than male students. Nonetheless, both genders reported a positive attitude towards condom use and towards people living with HIV and AIDS.

Conclusion: It is recommended that the relevant authorities at the state and the higher education level seriously consider implementing specific strategies for preventing HIV and AIDS through improved knowledge, attitudes and behaviours among young females.


attitudes about contraception; levels of knowledge; risky sexual behaviours; gender differences; young female students


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Crossref Citations

1. Knowledge of HIV and/or AIDS and HIV testing services among young men in South Africa
Sithembiso M. S. Ndlovu, Andrew Ross, James Ndirangu
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine  vol: 15  issue: 1  year: 2023  
doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.3796