Knowledge and beliefs of international travellers about the transmission and prevention of HIV infection.

CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne

PubMedID: 1544046

Allard R, Lambert G. Knowledge and beliefs of international travellers about the transmission and prevention of HIV infection. CMAJ. 1992;146(3):353-9.
OBJECTIVES
To measure the perceived risk of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among international travellers, to measure their knowledge of the transmission and prevention of HIV infection abroad and to identify some of the determinants of this knowledge.

DESIGN
Survey.

SETTING
Travellers' immunization clinic providing mostly primary preventive care to international travellers.

PARTICIPANTS
All clients aged 18 to 50 years seen at the clinic between Oct. 2 and Dec. 21, 1989, before their departure.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Sixteen statements measured knowledge of transmission and prevention of HIV infection. Standardized scales measured health beliefs.

RESULTS
The response rate was 81% (331/409). Compared with other diseases AIDS was perceived to be associated with a low risk except by those travelling to countries with a high prevalence of AIDS. Most of the clients were found to have a good knowledge of HIV transmission to travellers, although some myths remained popular and some real routes of transmission, especially blood, remained underrated. In all, 70% of the subjects believed in the efficacy of condoms when used with local people, as compared with 79% when used with other tourists; this difference was greatest among travellers who perceived AIDS as being particularly severe but difficult to prevent. The determinants of the knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention were a high level of education, a mother tongue other than French, unmarried status, a high prevalence of AIDS at the destination, the duration of the trip and a high perceived risk of HIV infection.

CONCLUSIONS
Counselling should teach travellers (a) not to underestimate their risk of HIV infection during their trip, (b) to decrease the risk of requiring health care in developing countries and (c) to rely on their own prudent sexual behaviour rather than on their assessment of the level of risk posed by the environment.