An educational-psychological investigation of the attitude of Black learners to HIV/AIDS
Ntho, Mokgadi Gloria
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The aims of this research were to investigate the attitudes of Black learners growing up in the townships towards HIVIAIDS; investigate the beliefs of communities in which Black learners grow up about HIVIAIDS; and make suggestions for an educational-psychological programme which schools can use to help Black learners develop healthy and responsible attitudes towards HIVIAIDS. The literature review revealed that some Black learners believe that HIVIAIDS can be transmitted through various forms of casual contact, such as kissing, sharing a drinking glass, and contact with a toilet seat. Learners who believe that HIV can be transmitted in these forms are much more likely to express discomfort about attending schools with learners who are infected with HIVIAIDS. Such misconceptions have the potential of being contributing factors in discriminating and stigmatizing individuals infected with HIVIAIDS. The literature, also, revealed that the cultural stereotypes about HIVIAIDS among Black learners are also linked to cultural beliefs and convictions, for example, for traditional Africans, illness is not a random event. Rather, every illness is a product of a destiny and has a specific cause. For black Africans, in order to eliminate the illness, it is necessary to identify, uproot, punish, eliminate and neutralise the cause and the agent of the cause of illness. Illness, according to black traditional beliefs, is a result of a disharmony between an ill person and his/her ancestors, deity, spirits, witches and sorcerers; natural causes such as being old; and a breakdown in social relationships between people. This could be the reason for some of the Black learners believing that HIVIAIDS is caused by the wrath of ancestors against people who fail to appease those of their families who have already passed on. The empirical research investigated the participants' personal beliefs about HIVIAIDS related stereotypes. The findings revealed that the majority of the learners who participated in this study do not know or are not sure of the origins of HIVIAIDS and that they personally have not changed their sexual behaviours as a result of their knowledge of HIVIAIDS. This could be attributed to the fact that the majority of the respondents revealed that they are not sexually active and they personally had never used condoms. The empirical research also asked the participants about the beliefs that people in their communities have about HIVIAIDS. Such questions were asked in order to determine the general beliefs about HIVIAIDS that the learners who formed the sample of this research are socialized and acculturated in. The results revealed that the majority of the people in the communities of the learners who participated in this research are unsure of the origin of HIVIAIDS and that condoms, according to their beliefs, cannot protect one from contracting H IVIAI DS. The analysis and interpretation of both the literature review and empirical research findings have led to this study making some recommendations which have implications for educational and psychological approaches to deal with attitudes of learners towards HIVIAIDS.
- Education