Leyanna Susan George 1 , Jishnu S. Lalu 2 , Nimitha Paul 3 , K. Leelamoni
INTRODUCTION Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Tuberculosis (TB) are two major public health problems that are often seen as coinfections, but are spread via different routes having different treatment strategies and outcomes with one being curable and the other not. However, both these diseases have stigma in common. OBJECTIVES (i) To assess the knowledge and social stigma regarding HIV/AIDS. (ii) To assess the knowledge and social stigma regarding TB. (iii) To study the association between knowledge & social stigma in HIV/AIDS and TB. (iv)To compare the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and TB. METHODOLOGY A cross-sectional study was carried out in an urban Arts & Science college situated in Kochi among students aged between 17- 24 years. Those students who were not willing to participate and who have/had TB or HIV/AIDS were excluded from the study. A total of 171 students were included in the study by random sampling and a pretested self-administered questionnaire was used. RESULTS Majority of the respondents were females (94.7%) in the age group of 17-19 years (52.6%) belonging to APL category (98.8%) and were Hindus (89.5%). All students (100%) had heard about HIV, however only 99.4% had heard about AIDS. Majority knew that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted via blood & blood products (91.9%), sharing of needles (87.1%) and from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy (69%). However, the respondents had many misconceptions such as mosquito bites (64.9%) and sharing food with an infected person (83%) can spread HIV. Even though, all had heard about TB, only 39.8% knew that TB is caused by bacteria, while 6% felt that smoking was the cause of TB. 63.7% of them knew that TB spreads from an infected to an uninfected person by cough/sneeze, only 43.9% knew about the symptoms of TB and a mere 28.7% knew that sputum microscopy was the best available diagnostic tool. Less than half the respondents knew that TB can be prevented by vaccination (47.4%) and were aware of the free treatment provided by the government (45%). It was found that 42.7% and 69% of the respondents had adequate knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS and TB respectively. However, there were no statistically significant association existing between any of the socio-demographic variables and knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS or TB. Stigma associated with these diseases differed in most aspects and stigma against HIV infected was found to be lesser when compared to a TB infected person. The only socio-demographic variable that showed a statistically significant association with stigma regarding HIV/AIDS was sex (p value=0.019). It was found that females had a higher level of stigma regarding HIV/AIDS when compared to males. CONCLUSION Our study concluded that, even though the youth are aware about these infectious diseases they still have a lot of misconceptions about the different modes of transmissions, preventive measures and treatment strategies that are available for both HIV/AIDS and TB. Therefore, there is a need to create holistic awareness about these diseases among the youth.