Attitudes of medical students toward the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

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Mar. 1995

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Medical students at the Cave Hill campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) were surveyed regarding their attitudes towards AIDS. This paper analyses the responses to 21 attitude items with reference to five primary areas related to AIDS--testing for HIV, homosexuality, fear of contagion, comfort in interacting with AIDS patients, and intention to care for persons with AIDS. The analysis indicated that these students were not at all comfortable with issues related to homosexuality, and that there was wide variation and some inconsistency in opinions regarding controversial and contentious issues. Most of these students, regardless of their choice of specialty after graduation, will eventually come into contact with an HIV-positive individual or an AIDS patient. There is a distinct possibility that biases and misperceptions held during the period of training are at great risk of being carried over into clinical practice, resulting in unwillingness, or even refusal, to treat certain types of patients. What has also become evident is that emphasis should be placed on ethical and attitudinal training within the Faculty of Medical Sciences. Future doctors need to be trained to effectively manage the many psychosocial, ethical, and legal problems that will be generated by the AIDS epidemic. What is urgently needed, therefore, is relevant curriculum design and development in the area of AIDS education directed at the region's future physicians


Abstract of presentation at Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council 39th Scientific Meeting, Kingston, Apr. 21-23, 1994 in West Indian Medical Journal, 43 (Supp. 1), Apr. 1994, p. 22

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