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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.40 n.2 Pretoria Aug. 2010




An assessment of occupational therapists' and physiotherapists' knowledge and perceptions concerning the treatment of patients with HIV and AIDS



M.E. ConchaI; M. HanssonII; S. HesselII; U SvantessonIII

IBSc OT, PhD (University of the Witwatersrand); Honorary Professorial Research Fellow, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
IIStudents in Physiotherapy, Institute of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Göteborg University, Sweden
IIIPhD, RPT; Associate Professor, Dept of Physiotherapy, Goteborg University





With the prevalence of the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) being approx 18% in South Africa, it is highly likely that occupational therapists (OTs) and physiotherapists (PTs) working in hospitals will be in daily contact with patients who are HIV positive. It is therefore important that these therapists be knowledgeable about the condition, its causes, progress and the rehabilitative intervention if they are to make a difference in the lives of these patients. This study therefore aimed at evaluating the knowledge and perceptions that a sample of OTs and PTs had of HIV and AIDS as previous studies had found the knowledge and attitudes of health professionals towards these patients to be poor. It was therefore thought to be important to ascertain whether this had changed in more recent years.
A purposive sample of 49 OTS and PTs, drawn from the list of therapists who were employed in the public hospitals of Limpopo Province where both OTs and PTs worked, were selected for the study. These therapists were required to answer a questionnaire which contained both open and closed questions covering knowledge and perceptions of HIV and the Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The questionnaire was given to the therapists at specially organised meetings at each of the hospitals selected. Thirty five therapists who attended these sessions, answered the questionnaire.
The findings of this study confirmed that of other researchers, namely that there is a relatively poor knowledge base of HIV and AIDS, and therapists generally are uncomfortable being in contact with this type of patient. Thus indicating that, in spite of the increased number of patients who are HIV+ and who have AIDS and the consequent increase in contact between therapist and client, the knowledge base of OTs and PTs in this sample was no different from that found in previous studies. Thus pointing out that there is an urgent need to address these deficiencies through training and mentoring.

Key words: HIV AIDS, transmission modes, stages of HIV progression, therapy



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M.E. Concha