Most-at-risk Populations: Knowledge about HIV Prevention

Export Indicator

Percentage of most-at-risk populations who both correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and who reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission
What it measures

To assess progress in building knowledge of the essential facts about HIV transmission among most-at-risk populations.

Note: countries with generalized epidemics may also have a concentrated subepidemic among one or
more most-at-risk populations. If so, it would be valuable for them to calculate and report on this indicator for those populations.
 

Rationale

Concentrated epidemics are generally driven by sexual transmission or use of contaminated injecting
equipment. Sound knowledge about HIV and AIDS is an essential prerequisite if people are going to
adopt behaviours that reduce their risk of infection. This indicator should be calculated separately for each population that is considered most-at-risk in a given country: sex workers, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men.

Numerator

Number of most-at-risk population respondents who gave the correct answers to all five questions

1. Can having sex with only one faithful, uninfected partner reduce the risk of HIV transmission?
2. Can using condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission?
3. Can a healthy-looking person have HIV?
4. Can a person get HIV from mosquito bites?
5. Can a person get HIV by sharing a meal with someone who is infected?

Denominator

Number of most-at-risk population respondents who gave answers, including “don’t know”, to all five questions

Calculation

Numerator / Denominator

Method of measurement

Respondents are asked the following five questions.
1. Can having sex with only one faithful, uninfected partner reduce the risk of HIV transmission?
2. Can using condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission?
3. Can a healthy-looking person have HIV?
4. Can a person get HIV from mosquito bites?
5. Can a person get HIV by sharing a meal with someone who is infected?

Indicator scores are required for all respondents and should be disaggregated by sex and age (

The first three questions should not be altered. Questions 4 and 5 may be replaced by the most common misconceptions in the country.

Respondents who have never heard of HIV and AIDS should be excluded from the numerator but included in the denominator.

Scores for each of the individual questions—based on the same denominator—are required in addition to the score for the composite indicator.

Whenever possible, data for most-at-risk populations should be collected through civil society organizations that have worked closely with this population in the field.

Access to survey respondents as well as the data collected from them must remain confidential.

Measurement frequency

Biennial

Disaggregation

Condom type: N/A

Education: N/A

Gender: Male, Female

Geographic location: N/A

HIV status: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Service Type: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

The belief that a healthy-looking person cannot be infected with HIV is a common misconception that
can result in unprotected sexual intercourse with infected partners. Correct knowledge about false beliefs of possible modes of HIV transmission is as important as correct knowledge of true modes of transmission. For example, the belief that HIV is transmitted through mosquito bites can weaken motivation to adopt safer sexual behaviour, while the belief that HIV can be transmitted through sharing food reinforces the stigma faced by people living with AIDS.

This indicator is particularly useful in countries where knowledge about HIV and AIDS is poor because it
allows for easy measurement of incremental improvements over time. However, it is also important in other countries because it can be used to ensure that pre-existing high levels of knowledge are maintained.

Surveying most-at-risk populations can be challenging. Consequently, data obtained may not be based on a representative sample of the national, most-at-risk population being surveyed. If there are concerns that the data are not based on a representative sample, these concerns should be refl ected in the interpretation of the survey data. Where different sources of data exist, the best available estimate should be used. Information on the sample size, the quality and reliability of the data, and any related issues should be included in the report submitted with this indicator.

To maximize the utility of these data, it is recommended that the same sample used for the calculation of
this indicator be used for the calculation of the other indicators related to these populations.

Further information