Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are the major global public health problems since their discovery in 1983. Knowledge and awareness about the transmission of the virus play an important role toward prevention and the control of the disease. This study aimed to assess the knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS among university students of two Iraqi Universities (Diyala and Al-Nahrain) by using a constructed self-administered questionnaire.


This cross-sectional study was conducted on 506 students from two Iraqi Universities using a constructed self-administered questionnaire in 2010 and 2017 for Diyala University and in 2017 for Al-Nahrain University. Data obtained from the students’ responses were collected and statistically analysed. The level of knowledge and awareness was measured according to Bloom’s cut-off point.


The study comprised 506 students from the two universities, 341 were females with a mean age of 22.38±4.99 years and 165 were males with a mean age of 22.38±4.99 years. Data revealed that participants, regardless of their gender, on specific questions had different levels (high, moderate and low) of knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS. A high level was seen with the causative agent of AIDS and its transmission through blood transfusion, unprotected sexual contact, and sharing needle injection. However, a moderate level was observed regarding antenatal vertical transmission of HIV, shared use of a toothbrush or a razor. While there was inadequate or low knowledge and awareness about HIV spread through breast feeding, during birth, needle sharing and the availability of vaccines. The levels of knowledge and awareness among female students were significantly higher than males in most studied parameters (P=0.03-0.006). The general knowledge and awareness among Diyala’s students declined during the second survey scheduled in 2017 compared with that done in 2010 (P=0.004) for undefined reasons.


The general knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS was fair among Iraqi students. With the increasing number of HIV cases in Iraq, the inadequacy in knowledge and awareness about spread and prevention of HIV must be considered in the public health strategy and education programs that should comply with Islamic rules and values.

Keywords: AIDS, Awareness, College students, HIV, Iraq, Knowledge, Sexual transmission.
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