Human immunodeficiency virus and Chilean women: the relationship between education and health-related preventive actions
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As of 2013, 39,000 Chileans have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has a prevalence of 8.6 cases per hundred thousand people, and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) has a prevalence of 5.4 cases per hundred thousand people. In addition, 99.2% of the cases have been reported as having been sexually transmitted. The objective of this study was to determine if a relationship existed between education level and HIV preventive actions. HIV preventive actions include the access to condoms, HIV-related diagnostic exams, and the dissemination of accurate preventative information. A descriptive analysis with data from the NIH-funded project, "Testing an HIV/AIDS Prevention Intervention for Chilean Women," was conducted. A total of four hundred women were included in this analysis (n=400). Pearson correlation was conducted to determine the strength of the relationships between the highest level of education completed and Papanicolau examinations, condom purchases or usage, sexual activity, communication with sexual partner and HIV/AIDS testing. We expect to see a strong positive correlation between education level vi and HIV-preventive actions-the lower the education level obtained, the less likely participants are to engage in HIV-preventive actions. The results of this study failed to demonstrate a correlation between education level and health-related preventive actions as demonstrated by the parameters evaluated here. The level of education of the participants did not correlate with STI diagnoses (r=- 0.16, p=0.747), number of sexual partners in her lifetime (r= -0.003, p=0.954), number of sexual partners in the previous three months (r= -0.016, p=0.751), communication with sexual partner regarding condom usage (r= -0.033, p=0.516), condom purchases(r=0.001, p=0.987), Papanicolau examination (r=-0.015, p=0.789), nor did it correlate with HIV testing rates (r= -0.005, p=0.92). No distinction was made regarding type of institution participants attended. From the results obtained, four main areas were identified to affect health-related preventive actions amongst the Chilean women interviewed including (1) Participants reported under-utilization of diagnostic exams, (2) Decreased use of condoms, (3) Cultural stigma towards HIV/AIDS and (4) Lack of continuity of care in women's health The next step for Chilean Public Health officials is to create public health programs and campaigns to increase population knowledge and understanding of HIV and AIDS. Secondary education must integrate information regarding safe sex practices into the curriculum. Future studies should investigate type of schooling attended (government-subsidized, semi-private, private), to determine variations in quality of education between socioeconomic status and the association with health-related preventive actions.