AIM OF STUDY: This study examines the beliefs and attitudes of Singapore doctors, dentists, and nurses concerning HIV/AIDS and persons living with HIV/AIDS (PWAs).
METHOD: A mail survey was done of all doctors and dentists in Singapore as well as a random sample of 1,500 nurses from the Singapore Nursing Board Register.
RESULTS: The results showed that respondents held accurate beliefs concerning transmission of HIV via sex and needle sharing but a significant proportion also expressed belief in transmission via everyday social contact. Respondents were aware of universal precautions when treating persons with HIV/AIDS but tended to be overly cautious in low/no risk situations. A substantial proportion of respondents indicated little or no knowledge or experience with AIDS-related conditions and the majority believed that most health care professionals are unprepared to care for PWAs. Further, there was evidence of substantial stigmatisation and fear of treating PWAs, both of which were significantly and negatively correlated with accuracy of beliefs about HIV transmission and universal precautions.
CONCLUSION: These results point to important misconceptions about HIV/AIDS held by Singapore health care professionals as well as stigma towards and fear of treating PWAs. These are areas that need to be addressed through better professional education concerning HIV/ AIDS. This education needs to address both the factual misconceptions about HIV/AIDS as well as the stigma associated with this disease and the fears that health care professionals have of treating PWAs.