Break the Silence: HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes, and educational needs among Arab university students in United Arab Emirates

Ganczak, Maria, Barss, Peter, Alfaresi, Fatima, Almazrouei, Shamma, Muraddad, Amal and Al-Maskari, Fatma (2007) Break the Silence: HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes, and educational needs among Arab university students in United Arab Emirates. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40 6: 572.e1-572.e8. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.01.011

Author Ganczak, Maria
Barss, Peter
Alfaresi, Fatima
Almazrouei, Shamma
Muraddad, Amal
Al-Maskari, Fatma
Title Break the Silence: HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes, and educational needs among Arab university students in United Arab Emirates
Journal name Journal of Adolescent Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1054-139X
Publication date 2007-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.01.011
Volume 40
Issue 6
Start page 572.e1
End page 572.e8
Total pages 8
Place of publication New York , U.S.A
Publisher Elsevier Science
Language eng
Subject 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Formatted abstract
In light of increasing spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Middle East, we assessed knowledge, attitudes, and educational needs of young people in United Arab Emirates (UAE), a modern and moderately conservative Islamic country.


A cross-sectional survey among randomly selected first-year, gender-segregated Arab students at the national university in Al Ain in 2005 was conducted using an adaptation of an anonymous self-administered World Health Organization questionnaire. Knowledge and attitudes were scored.


Response was 89%; 119 males and 148 females. Knowledge scores about HIV/AIDS were low for 75%, moderate for 24%, high for <1%. Although 90% knew main routes of infection, there were misconceptions about transmission, and only 31% knew there is no vaccine and 34% no cure. Religion was stated as a reason to avoid extramarital relationships by 91% and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by 38%; 94% favored premarital testing. Attitudes toward people living with HIV (PLH) were neither friendly nor tolerant, including 97% who felt all people entering UAE should be tested, 53% that PLH should be forced to live apart, and only 27% who felt children with HIV should be allowed to attend school. Ninety-six percent stated that young people should be taught how to protect themselves and 57% that teaching at school was insufficient. Main information sources were books/media; preferred sources were media, schools, and health professionals. Males scored higher on knowledge and were more susceptible to fear of STDs, society, and family; females showed greater compassion and interest in premarital testing and education to protect themselves.


Alarming gaps in knowledge about transmission and curability put young Arabs at risk of contracting HIV. Fear and intolerant attitudes toward PLH were prevalent. HIV/AIDS education designed to raise knowledge and change attitudes, and respectful of community values, is urgently needed from media, schools, and health professionals.
Keyword HIV
Sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted infection
Health promotion
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 05 Jan 2010, 00:43:04 EST by Ms Lynette Adams on behalf of School of Public Health