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Another possible source of error is that since we don’t know the Maharati language the questionnaire could be incorrectly translated from English to Maharati. The answers in the Maharati questionnaires were translated and construed in two steps, first by the Indian doctor and then by us, and this increases the risk for misconceptions.

The headmasters of the school in the rural area didn’t allow us to ask the questions about private life. They found the questions too personal and were afraid that the school could get a bad reputation and that the parents might get angry if such questions would be asked. Therefor we excluded questions 28 to 41 in Shelgaon pre college school. That made it impossible for us to do the comparisons and evaluations that we had intended to do from the beginning.

When we read the answers in the English questionnaires, we got the impression that the students not fully understood all of the questions. The reason could be that they didn’t have a good command of English or that the questions were put in a wrong way. We also had some problems to construe the Maharati questionnaires. We think that some of the students completely misunderstood the questions since many of the answers were absurd and incongruous. For example, one 16-year old student answered that she was 25 years old when she first heard of HIV. Another example is the student who numbered the alternative answers from 1 to 5 (1 for very poor and 5 for very good) on the question about her families economical situation (question 10) instead of answering the question. Many of the students, especially the girls, seemed to be embarrassed and shy during the personal interviews. Therefore we don’t know if they answered honestly on the questions or if they sometimes answered “don’t know” even if they knew the answers.

The word boyfriend and girlfriend probably don’t have the same meaning in India as in Sweden. We think that all their friends are called boyfriends and girlfriends. Therefore we exclude these alternatives in table 1.


Even though the HIV prevalence is still low (about 1%), India faces an explosive spread of the disease and has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics globally. To prevent the spread of HIV in India it’s very important to raise the level of knowledge about the disease. The first National Aids Control Programme was started in 1987 and a lot of effort has been done in India after that to prevent further expansion of the disease. To know where to put the effort in the future, it’s very important to investigate the educational level of HIV and evaluate what people have learned from prior campaigns.

Knowledge about HIV/AIDS All students answering the questionnaires had heard about the sickness called HIV/AIDS, except for one student in the village and one in the city. When comparing our results with results from other studies the percentage in our study is higher (99%). In a study made among pregnant women in Maharastra (2002), 90% had heard about HIV/AIDS (25), and in a study among men in Karnataka (2004), 91% had heard about HIV/AIDS (20). In a national behavioural study done in 2001 (including almost 85 000 people) only 75% of the participants had heard about AIDS and the awareness was especially low among the rural women in West Bengal, Bihar and Gujarat (12). A study among 650 slum dwellers (age 15-45 years) in Chennai showed that 13% of the females and 22% of the males were totally unaware of AIDS (17). A study from 2001-2002, done in a rural district in Tamil Nadu, (10 000 persons from


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