Youth who have been orphaned or otherwise made vulnerable by HIV or AIDS are also at elevated risk for acquiring HIV themselves. Adequate HIV-related knowledge is a critical tool for prevention, and nowhere more so than in the context of a high-prevalence epidemic such as South Africa’s. Yet, a recent survey found that less than one-third of youth in South Africa had accurate knowledge of HIV. A particular imperative exists to educate children who are already at increased risk, including those who are socially vulnerable. Many OVC programs are in the process of integrating HIV and AIDS education into existing services or designing new interventions (e.g., life skills training, after school clubs) that explicitly respond to this need. In order to support the effective design of these prevention interventions, this brief offers information on the current level of HIV and AIDS knowledge among OVC program beneficiaries in KwaZulu-Natal, the province with the highest HIV burden in South Africa. The findings presented here are drawn from the baseline assessment of a longitudinal study investigating the effectiveness of a range of OVC interventions (study methodology and sample characteristics described in greater detail in the brief below). HIV and AIDS knowledge was assessed through children’s responses to a standard series of questions used frequently in Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) questionnaires. Findings from this study showed that almost three-quarters of children and youth years lacked comprehensive HIV knowledge, and that low levels of understanding about transmission and prevention were a problem in every age group.
Suggested Citation: Thurman, T.R., & Kidman, R. (2011). HIV and AIDS Knowledge among Orphans and Vulnerable Children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. New Orleans, Louisiana: Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.