Knowledge, attitudes and practices on HIV/AIDS and prevalence of HIV in the general population of Sucre, Bolivia

Carolina Terán Calderón Dorian Gorena Urizar Cristina González Blázquez Belén Alejos Ferreras Oriana Ramírez Rubio Francisco Bolumar Montrull Marta Ortiz Rivera Julia del Amo Valero About the authors

Abstract

Background:

To analyse knowledge, attitudes and sexual practices on HIV/AIDS, and estimate HIV prevalence among residents of Sucre (Bolivia).

Methodology:

Population-based survey of residents aged 15-49 randomly selected during 2008/2009. Blood samples were collected on Whatman-filter paper and tested with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Knowledge on HIV/AIDS, sexual risk practices and discriminatory attitudes against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) were modelled with multiple logistic regression.

Results:

Of 1499 subjects, 59% were women. All subjects were HIV-negative. Inadequate knowledge of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention was observed in 67% and risk factors varied by gender (interaction p-value < 0.05). Discriminatory attitudes were displayed by 85% subjects; associated factors were: rural residence, low educational level and low income. Unsafe sex was reported by 10%; risk factors varied by residence area (interaction p-value < 0.05). In urban areas, risk factors were male sex, younger age and being in common-law union.

Conclusions:

Prevalence of HIV infection is very low and unsafe sex is relatively uncommon. Inadequate knowledge on HIV/AIDS and discriminatory attitudes towards PLWHA are extremely high and are associated to gender, ethnic and economic inequalities.

HIV prevalence; Knowledge on HIV/AIDS; Attitude towards PLWHA; Sexual practices on HIV


Introduction

In spite of large regional differences, the HIV epidemic in Central and South America has shown a stable pattern over the last decade. In the majority of countries in the region, the epidemic is concentrated and remains at a low level.1ONUSIDA/OMS. Situación de la epidemia del sida, 2007. Ginebra, Suiza: Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/sida (ONUSIDA) y Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS); 2008 http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2008/jc1530_epibriefs_latinamerica_es.pdf [accessed 24.06.09].
http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2008/j...
, 2WHO/UNAIDS/UNICEF. Global HIV/AIDS response: epidemic update and health sector progress towards universal access. Progress report 2011. Annex 10. Classification of low- and middle-income countries by income level, epidemic level, and geographical UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO regions. http://www.who.int/hiv/data/tuapr2011_annex10 web.xls [accessed 30.12.11].
http://www.who.int/hiv/data/tuapr2011_an...
Among men who have sex with men (MSM), prevalence stands at around 10% in most countries, though heterosexual transmission of HIV has increased, particularly in South America.3UNAIDS. Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global5Aids Epidemic. Geneva, Switzerland: Joint United Nations Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); 2010 http://issuu.com/unaids/docs/unaids_globalreport_2010?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Flight%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true [accessed 20.02.11].
http://issuu.com/unaids/docs/unaids_glob...

There is little information on the epidemiology of HIV in Bolivia is available. Surveillance data indicate that 4889 HIV cases were reported from 1984 to 2009; 89% of which came from La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.4Ministerio de Salud y Deportes-Programa Nacional ITS-VIH/sida. Informe Nacional sobre los progresos realizados en la aplicación UNGASS 2008-2009. La Paz: Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia; 2010 http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2010countries/bolivia_2010_country_progress_report es.pdf [accessed 20.02.11].
http://www.unaids.org/en/dataanalysis/kn...
In 2009, it was estimated there were12,000 [range 9000-16,000] persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and the estimated prevalence in the population aged 15-49 years was 0.2% [95% CI: 0.1-0.3%].5 The HIV epidemic in Bolivia is concentrated in the MSM group.5UNAIDS. HIV and AIDS estimates. Bolivia: UNAIDS; 2009 http://www.unaids.org/es/regionscountries/countries/bolivia [accessed 07.03.11].
http://www.unaids.org/es/regionscountrie...

ONUSIDA/OMS. La epidemia mundial del SIDA - 2006. Anexo 1: Perfiles de País. Ginebra, Suiza: Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/sida(ONUSIDA) y Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS); 2006 http://data.unaids.org/pub/GlobalReport/2006/2006_GR_ANN1A-B_es.pdf [accessed 07.07.08].
http://data.unaids.org/pub/GlobalReport/...
- 7Protto JP, Schaaf D, Suárez MF, Darras C. Entorno Epidemiológico y respuesta a la epidemia del VIH en Bolivia. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2008;23:288-94.

In the department of Chuquisaca according with the Departmental Health Service (SEDES-Chuquisaca) data report of 2010 (unpublished result), only 27 new HIV cases were reported in 2010; 78% were residents of Sucre, but no HIV prevalence estimates in the general population are available.

Studies on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) have been widely used to design public health policies and for planning health interventions taking into account the needs of the community.8Unite for Sight. Survey Methodologies. KAP Surveys. http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-health-university/survey-methodologies#_ftn11 [accessed 27.02.11].
http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-heal...
, 9Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP). Studies for water resources projects. http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/grants/community/6kap_summary.pdf [accessed 27.02.11].
http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/...
There is limited information on KAP on HIV/AIDS among the general population of Bolivia, a multicultural nation with great ethnic diversity and marked socio-economic inequalities. Therefore, the aims of this study were to analyse knowledge on HIV/AIDS, as well as attitudes and practices with respect to HIV/AIDS and to estimate the prevalence of HIV infection among inhabitants aged 15-49 years residing in the town of Sucre (department of Chuquisaca, Bolivia) in 2008-2009.

Materials and methods

We conducted a cross-sectional population-based study consisting of a KAP survey linked to a sero-survey using Whatman paper to estimate HIV prevalence. Inclusion criteria were subjects aged 15-49 years who had resided in Sucre during the preceding 12 months and consented to participate, excluding those who had some mental disability or refused to participate in the study. Sample size calculations were based on an expected prevalence of HIV-related knowledge of 12%, based on a previous study developed by the Simon Bolivar Andean University (UASB) with UNAIDS on 2006 (unpublished result), with a 95% confidence level, and a precision of 2%. Separate sample size calculations were made for the estimation of the HIV prevalence in Sucre as the prevalence of HIV was expected to be low. For an expected HIV prevalence of 1%, with a 95% confidence level, and an absolute precision of 0.5%, the necessary sample size was 1500 subjects. Due to budgetary constrictions, the HIV determinations could only be done in 1000 persons with the inevitable loss of precision. Subjects were randomly selected within each of the urban and rural districts of Sucre, with a proportional allocation to the respective district populations. Since there are no population-based registries in Sucre, we used the address records kept by Health Centres, selected homes at random, and then interviewed the first person in the household who fulfilled the inclusion/exclusion criteria, with a maximum of one person being interviewed per dwelling.

Data were collected by personal interviews conducted by trained interviewers, followed by the extraction of a blood specimen. Interviewers (fourth-year students attending the Faculty of Medicine at San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca University, and physicians and nurses at health centres coming under the aegis of the Ministry of Health) underwent one month's training and were additionally required to speak Quechua, the native language. The survey was administered personally, lasted approximately 25 min, and was conducted from September 2008 to March 2009. No survey response rate was formally recorded, though acceptance was good and none of the persons who were offered the blood test refused to participate. It was only for budgetary reasons that blood tests were conducted in only 998 persons, 67% of the total number of interviewees.

The questionnaire was made up of five sections: (a) sociodemographic characteristics; (b) knowledge about modes of HIV/AIDS transmission; (c) attitudes and practices with respect to HIV/AIDS; (d) clinical history of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and/or HIV/AIDS; and (e) other risk factors related to HIV/AIDS. Data collected in the questionnaire were used to construct the KAP indicators, based on the recommendations of the Basic Indicators of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, (UNAIDS) and applied to the epidemic situation in Bolivia. 1010. ONUSIDA. Seguimiento de la Declaración de compromiso sobre el VIH/sida. Directrices para el desarrollo de indicadores básicos. Informe 2010. Ginebra, Suiza: Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/sida (ONUSIDA); 2006 http://data.unaids.org/pub/Manual/2009/jc1676coreindicators_2009_es.pdf [accessed 10.09.10].
http://data.unaids.org/pub/Manual/2009/j...
, 1111 ONUSIDA/OMS. Programas nacionales contra el sida Una guía de indicadores para monitorear y evaluar los programas de prevención del VIH/SIDA para jóvenes. Ginebra, Suiza: Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/sida (ONUSIDA) y Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS); 2005 http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/me/napyoungpeoplesp.pdf [accessed 15.12.10].
http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/me/napyoungpe...

Indicator definitions

Indicator of knowledge about prevention and transmission of HIV in the population

"Adequate knowledge": In response to the question as to whether the subject knows how to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV, he/she answers, "by using condom" and "by having a single sexual partner". In response to the question as to whether a healthy looking person may have HIV/AIDS, the subject answers, "yes"; and in response to the question as to whether he/she knows the ways in which the disease is transmitted, rejects the options, "by mosquito bite" and "by cohabiting with a PLWHA".

"Inadequate knowledge": Number of men and women who answer any of these questions differently.

Indicator of attitudes of discrimination and stigmatisation

"Attitude of discrimination": the subject responds negatively to the questions, "would you be willing to give accommodation to a relative if you knew that he/she had HIV/AIDS?", "would you allow a teacher who has HIV/AIDS to continue teaching at the school?", and "would you buy from a fruit vendor, if you knew he/she had HIV/AIDS?"; and responds affirmatively to the question: "if some relative had the infection, would you prefer that no-one knew?".

"Attitude of acceptance": subject shows attitudes of acceptance towards any of the four questions posed about PLWHA.

Indicator of sexual risk practices

"Unsafe sex": adolescents, young adults and singletons who report having had sex in the preceding 12 months with more than one partner; and persons who are either married, in a common-law union, widowed and divorced who report having had unprotected sex (without a condom) outside the couple.

"Safe sex": adolescents, young adults and singletons who report not having had sex in the preceding 12 months with more than one partner; and persons who are either married, in a common-law union, widowed and divorced who report not having had unsafe sex outside the couple.

Laboratory analysis

Blood samples were collected on Whatman N◦ 5 filter paper with measures to ensure asepsia; the pad of the fingertip (ring finger of the left hand for right-handed persons and right hand for left-handed persons) was punctured with a sterile lancet; specimens were left to air dry and stored at 4 ◦ C with desiccants, until being dispatched, in line with international regulations for transport of biological samples for diagnostic purposes, to the Retrovirus and Papillomavirus Unit at the National Centre for Microbiology of the Carlos III Institute of Health in Spain, for analyses. A commercial assay Genscreen HIV-1/2 (BioRad, France) was used for HIV antibodies detection. A 5 mm diameter discs were punched from dried blood spots (DBS) using Delfia Wallac Plate Punch (Perkin Elmer, USA) and placed into a 96-well plate for elution in 125 µL of phosphate-buffered saline-Tween 80 (pH 7.2; 0.05% Tween 80 and 0.005% sodium azide). The plate was incubated overnight at 4 ◦ C under shaking. HIV antibody detection assay was performed using 80 µL of DBS eluate.

Statistical analysis

Descriptive analyses of patients' socio-demographic characteristics were stratified by sex and compared using the Chi Squared test (x2test) for trend. The three indicators used as response variables were inadequate knowledge on HIV/AIDS, unsafe sex, and discriminatory attitudes towards PLWHA. Crude Odds Ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated to quantify the association between each potential risk factor and the response variables and modelled using multivariate logistic regression. The final model was selected using a "backwards" procedure. Possible interactions between risk factors and outcome variables were investigated. As sex was found to be an effect modifier for the risk factors associated with inadequate knowledge on HIV/AIDS, (p-value for interaction < 0.05), analyses were stratified by sex. Also, as area of residence was found to be an effect modifier for the risk factors associated with unsafe sex (p-value for interaction < 0.05), analyses were stratified by residential area. Analyses were performed with SPSS for Windows v. 12.0 and Stata version 10.

Ethical considerations

The study obtained Departmental STI/HIV/AIDS Programme approval from the Ministry of Health in Chuquisaca, which acted as the ethics committee in 2008. Prior to undertaking the survey, the interviewers explained the aims of the study, the voluntary nature of participation and blood-extraction procedure to all participants. In addition, participants were informed they would only be contacted if they tested positive. Subjects were requested to give their oral consent, and for the blood test, they had to sign or placing their fingerprint on the informed consent form.

Results

A total of 1499 persons, 614 men and 885 women, were interviewed. Table 1 shows their sociodemographic characteristics by gender showing significant differences; with more male residents in urban areas and more female residents in rural areas. Broken down by marital status, 60% were single (mainly men). No age-related differences were found between men and women. While most of the population had a medium/high educational level (secondary/university), the percentage that had scarcely completed their primary education was higher among women than among men (15% vs. 7%). There were gender-related differences by language and income; more women spoke "Spanish and Quechua" or only Quechua and more women reported lower monthly family incomes.

Table 1
Socio-demographic variables stratified by gender.

Prevalence of HIV infection

Of the 1499 persons surveyed, only 998 (67%) had blood samples taken due to budget limitations. None refused to have blood taken. No seropositive cases were found thus prevalence of HIV infection was 0.0% (95% CI: 0.0-0.4%). There were not statistically significant differences between the characteristics of the people who had and had not blood tests done (data not shown).

Knowledge of prevention and transmission of HIV

Overall, prevalence of inadequate knowledge of the correct forms of prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS was 67% (95% CI: 64.6-69.4%); broken down by gender 69% (95% CI: 65.4-71.5%) in women and 65% (95% CI: 61.2-68.8%) in men. The risk factors associated with this indicator varied by gender (interaction p-value < 0.05) and multivariate analysis were stratified by gender (Table 2). In women, inadequate knowledge was associated with rural vs. urban residence [OR = 3.9 (95% CI: 1.9-8.29)], speaking Quechua vs. only Spanish, [OR = 1.4 (95% CI: 1.0-1.9)], low educational level [OR = 7.8 (95% CI: 3.1-19.7)] and earning a monthly family income of "Bs < 1000", [OR = 2.0 (95% CI: 1.4-2.7)]; in men, associated factors were rural residence [OR 7.3 (95% CI: 2.6-21.0)] and speaking Quechua [(OR 1.6 95% CI: 1.1-2.6)]).

Table 2
Prevalence of inadequate knowledge on HIV prevention and transmission mechanisms and adjusted OR estimated by multivariate logistic regression.

Discrimination and stigmatisation

Prevalence of attitudes of discrimination and stigmatisation towards PLWHA was 85% (95% CI: 83.3-86.9) and were almost three times higher among subjects in the "rural area" than in the urban area [OR 2.9 (95% CI: 1.4-5.0)], in persons with a low educational level and family income, [OR 2.1 (95% CI: 1.1-4.2)] and [OR 2.0 (95% CI: 2.0-0.5)], respectively (Table 3).

Table 3
Prevalence of discriminatory attitudes to PLWHAa and adjusted OR estimated by multivariate logistic regression.

Sexual risk practices

Prevalence of unsafe sex among persons who had already ini- tiated their sexual life was 10.7% (95% CI: 8.6-12.1%), and was higher in urban, 11% (95% CI: 8.9-12.5%), than in rural areas, 8% (95% CI: 3.5-11.9%). Risk factors for this indicator were different in the rural and urban area (p-value for interaction < 0.05) and multivariate analysis were stratified by residential area (Table 4). Increased prevalence of unsafe sex in the urban area was reported by men, the "youngest" segment and subjects living in a "stable union" while in the rural area, no variable was found to have a statistically significant association with unsafe sex.

Table 4
Prevalence of unsafe sex practices and adjusted OR estimated by multivariate logistic regression in the urban setting.

Discussion

Inadequate knowledge on HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention mechanisms and the discriminatory attitudes towards persons with HIV are very frequent in Sucre in spite of relatively low prevalence of unsafe sex behaviour and a very low prevalence of HIV infection. Moreover, indicators of knowledge, attitudes and practices on HIV/AIDS display important differences according to gender, ethnic and socio-economic origin, and urban versus rural residence.

The prevalence of HIV in the general population aged 15-49 in Sucre was 0.0% (95% CI: 0.0-0.37) and is lower than the prevalence estimated by UNAIDS in 2010 for the general population of the same age in Bolivia, namely, 0.2% (95% CI:0.1-0.34). These data rank Sucre as one of the regions withthe lowest estimated prevalence in South America.3UNAIDS. Global Report: UNAIDS Report on the Global5Aids Epidemic. Geneva, Switzerland: Joint United Nations Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); 2010 http://issuu.com/unaids/docs/unaids_globalreport_2010?mode=embed&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Flight%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true [accessed 20.02.11].
http://issuu.com/unaids/docs/unaids_glob...

Prevalence of inadequate knowledge on HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention mechanisms in Sucre is high; 65% in men and 69% in women. Furthermore, risk factors differ by gender. Although inadequate knowledge is more frequent in rural areas and among Quechua-speakers of both genders, among women it is additionally associated with a low educational and socio-economic level, highlighting their vulnerability. The prevalence of inadequate knowledge observed by our study is lower than that reported by previous studies conducted in Bolivia. The study developed in Chuquisaca by the UASB with UNAIDS on 2006 (unpub lished result) also used the UNAIDS indicators and estimated the prevalence of inadequate knowledge as being 88% in rural areas, mostly Quechua-speaking, in the department of Chuquisaca, and data furnished by the most recent (2008) Bolivian National Demographic & Health Survey1212 Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia. Encuesta de Demografía y Salud: ENDSA 2008. La Paz: Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia; 2009 http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR228/FR228%5B08Feb2010%5D.pdf [accessed 20.02.11].
http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR228...
estimated inadequate knowledge of modes of HIV transmission among persons aged 15-49 as being 76% in men and 78% in women. Apart from methodological differences in the instruments for measuring and selecting the sample, these discrepancies may be due to the higher mean educational level of persons who answered our survey given that Sucre is a university city with a large number of residential students. Our study's findings are comparable to those of the 2008 El Salvador National Family Health Survey,1313 Asociación de Demografía Salvadoren˜ a. Encuesta Nacional de Salud Familiar de 2008. San Salvador, El Salvador: Asociación de Demografía Salvadoren˜ a (ADS); 2009 http://www.fesal.org.sv [accessed11.01.11].
http://www.fesal.org.sv ...
which describes inadequate knowledge of HIV as 66% among persons aged 15-49 and 63% among aged 15-24 but suggests higher levels of inadequate knowledge than other countries. In Brazil, inadequate knowledge of HIV was estimated at 39% and 43% in 2005.1414 Szwarcwald C, Barbosa-JúniorA,Pascom AR, De Souza-Júnior PR. Knowledge, practices and behaviour related to HIV transmission among the Brazilian population in the 15-54 years age group, 2004. AIDS. 2005; Suppl 4:S51-8. , 1515 Ferreira MP, Grupo de Estudos emPopulacao, Sexualidade e Aids. Knowledge and risk perception on HIV/AIDS by Brazilian population, 1998 and 2005. Rev Saúde Pública. 2008;42 Suppl 1:65-71. It is noteworthy that, as in El Salvador, inadequate knowledge was higher in rural women with low educational and socio-economic levels, and that, as in Brazil,1616 González B, Núñez E, Couturejuzon L, Amable Z. Conocimientos y comportamientos sobre el VIH/SIDA en adolescentes de enseñanza mediasuperior. Rev Cub Salud Pública. 2008;34. in persons with lower education level. Finally, while there are other studies on knowledge and practices with respect to HIV/AIDS in Latin America, their results are not comparable to ours, since they were not conducted on the general population.1616 González B, Núñez E, Couturejuzon L, Amable Z. Conocimientos y comportamientos sobre el VIH/SIDA en adolescentes de enseñanza mediasuperior. Rev Cub Salud Pública. 2008;34. , 1717 Broche RA, Martín DM, Soler Porro AB, Alonso Z. Conocimiento sobre VIH/SIDA por adolescentes de la Parroquia 23 de Enero. Caracas, Venezuela. Rev Cub Salud Pública. 2009;9.

The prevalence of attitudes of discrimination and stigmatisation towards persons living with HIV/AIDS in this study was very high, 85%, being higher in the rural area, a prevalence similar to those reported in the Simon Bolivar Andean University (UASB)-UNAIDS study (2006) (unpublished result). In our study, persons with a low socio-economic level displayed the most pronounced attitudes of rejection; this is important to be considered when designing preventive strategies as it has been acknowledged that attitudes of stigmatisation and discrimination towards PLWHA reduce the effectiveness of programmes and services.1818 UNAIDS. Guidance and Specifications for Additional Recommended Indicators. Addendum to: UNGASS. Monitoring the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. Guidelines on Construction of Core Indicators. 2008 Reporting. Geneva, Switzerland: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; 2008 http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/document/2010/JC1768-Additional_Indicators_v2_En.pdf [accessed 11.01.11].
http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/co...

The prevalence of unsafe sexual risk practices was relatively low, 10%, and was higher in men than in women. These figures are lower than those from Brazil,1515 Ferreira MP, Grupo de Estudos emPopulacao, Sexualidade e Aids. Knowledge and risk perception on HIV/AIDS by Brazilian population, 1998 and 2005. Rev Saúde Pública. 2008;42 Suppl 1:65-71. where unsafe sex in the general population aged 15-54 were 41% in women and 33% in men. In our study, there were no significant differences in the rural area for any of the variables, in line with the findings of the UASB-UNAIDS study in the rural area of Chuquisaca. In the urban area, however, women reported a significantly lower prevalence of unsafe sex than men, and adolescents and young adults reported more frequent unsafe sex practices than older adults aged 25-49. A study conducted in Brazil1515 Ferreira MP, Grupo de Estudos emPopulacao, Sexualidade e Aids. Knowledge and risk perception on HIV/AIDS by Brazilian population, 1998 and 2005. Rev Saúde Pública. 2008;42 Suppl 1:65-71. reported that persons aged 40-54 had higher prevalence of unsafe sex than adolescents and young adults. In our study, 22% of the population had initiated sexual relations before the age of 15 years, though this was commoner in men than in women. This percentage was higher than that reported by the 2008 Bolivian National Demographic & Health Survey.1212 Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia. Encuesta de Demografía y Salud: ENDSA 2008. La Paz: Ministerio de Salud y Deportes de Bolivia; 2009 http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR228/FR228%5B08Feb2010%5D.pdf [accessed 20.02.11].
http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR228...
Compared to other countries in the region, the age of initiation of sexual relations in Bolivia is higher.1616 González B, Núñez E, Couturejuzon L, Amable Z. Conocimientos y comportamientos sobre el VIH/SIDA en adolescentes de enseñanza mediasuperior. Rev Cub Salud Pública. 2008;34.

One of the limitations of this study is not having the response rate since no data were gathered to calculate it. Another limitation is the loss of relative precision in the estimation of HIV prevalence due to the restricted sample size, nevertheless the absolute precision is still low and our result is consistent with previous studies that have reported low HIV prevalence in Bolivia. Since no optimal sampling framework was available, random sampling was not strictly fulfilled due to the difficulties of reaching subjects in the rural area. An effort was also made to minimise information bias, by rendering the survey anonymous, ensuring interviewers were of the same gender as interviewees, and indicating beforehand that nothing subjects might say would be judged, and that it was hoped they would reply as honestly as possible as results would be useful, not only for themselves but also for many other persons. All these helped create a climate of trust and reduce information bias, though underreporting of sexual risk behaviours motivated by the need to give socially acceptable replies cannot be ruled out.

In conclusion this is the first study to analyse knowledge, attitudes and sexual practices with respect to HIV/AIDS and prevalence of HIV infection among the general population of Sucre, Bolivia. The results of this study that highlight profound and unfair differences by gender, ethnic and socio-economic origin, and urban versus rural residence should allow to design policies that take into account ethnic, intercultural, regional and gender-related realities, aligned with current national community and intercultural health policy as to provide an adequate response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Bolivia.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following: all the participants; the field team members of San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca University who acted as the interviewers (students of the School of Medicine San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca University) and to the study coordinators; the Chuquisaca Regional Health Service (Servicio Departamental de Salud/SEDES-Chuquisaca) of the Bolivian Ministry of Health for its logistical support; and the National Centre for Epidemiology and National Centre for Microbiology of the Carlos III Institute of Health. Our special thanks go to the Spanish Agency for International Development & Cooperation (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo - AECID) for its financial support of the Public Health Doctoral Programme of the Simon Bolivar Andean University (UASB), which led to this study.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Jul-Aug 2015

History

  • Received
    14 Jan 2015
  • Accepted
    05 Apr 2015
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