Study on HIV awareness needed

National 2 minutes, 5 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MORE research must be done on HIV awareness in the country, said the president of the Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAC) yesterday.

Iswandy Ahmad was speaking during an HIV knowledge quiz involving 777 participants organised by the BDAC.

The questions were designed to gauge the extent of the respondents’ basic knowledge and did not encompass aspects relating to the transmission of the disease such as attitudes and practices.

The results, however, were encouraging, with respondents demonstrating on average a 70 per cent accuracy rate on prevention and intervention.

“This shows the participants have a significantly good knowledge on how HIV spreads. Having said that, we still have more information gaps to fill and this evidence-based approach will direct where Brunei Darussalam should head in its HIV/AIDS work,” said Iswandy in his opening remarks during a prize-giving ceremony at the BDAC headquarters in Gadong.

He explained that the questionnaire would act as a preliminary study ahead of a larger survey of the public on HIV knowledge.

“It is something that we plan to do in the near future,” he said.

“We are calling for more research to be done on HIV-related matters, and hopefully, our universities, colleges, think-tanks, students and experts in Brunei Darussalam can take on this task, as multi-sectoral collaboration in our community is vital in HIV/AIDS.”

He said the need for a large-scale survey was ever-increasing, especially as incidents of sexually transmitted infection, teenage pregnancy, abandoned babies and HIV infection still exist within society, and that combating these issues would involve everyone in the community working together.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, the BDAC president said the council would not be able to conduct an extensive survey on its own.

“The one that we just completed is of a simple nature and it was easier to analyse as it involved multiple choice questions. However, surveys with open-ended questions would better serve to improve data on society’s understanding, and we will need the expertise of universities and other institutions and their experts to help us with this.”

The BDAC presented prizes to the first 10 respondents who managed to score 100 per cent on the quiz. Of the 777 respondents, 150 managed to answer every question correctly.

The BDAC in a statement said the survey was carried out in response to a recent country report by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) that said there was virtually no data available regarding HIV knowledge in Brunei.

The Brunei Times