Background: People living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (PLWHA) who perceive high levels of stigma are 2.4 times more likely to delay seeking healthcare. This study aimed to evaluate and compare the level of knowledge about HIV/AIDS and stigmatization (attitude) toward PLWHA among medical and non-medical college students in Riyadh and whether the level of knowledge affects the attitude of the individual toward PLWHA.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted using a non-probability convenience sampling technique. The required sample size was 384. An online validated questionnaire was distributed to the students of three universities in Riyadh, including University A, B, and C.
Results: A total of 602 students from three universities completed the questionnaire, 225 were non-medical, 253 medical, and 124 health sciences students other than medicine. The knowledge score was calculated based on the responses to 13 questions. The mean knowledge score was 9.3 ± 3.0. The attitude scale was based on the answers to six statements using a Likert scale, and the mean score was 15.1 ± 5.7 out of a total of 30.
Conclusion: Medical students had the highest level of knowledge and the lowest stigmatization score. On the contrary, the non-medical students had a lower knowledge score with a higher score in stigmatization. There was a negative correlation between the knowledge and stigma scores. We could reduce or eliminate stigmatization and a negative attitude by raising awareness about HIV transmission, prevention, and treatment.
Key words: HIV, HIV stigma, knowledge about HIV, HIV survey,HIV comparison survey, attitude toward people with HIV, AIDS.