General and special education teachers' knowledge of and attitudes toward students with HIV/AIDS

Ellen Pollack, Florida International University


AIDS education is mandated in schools throughout the United States to educate students about the disease. Teachers are expected to assume the major role of disseminating this information; therefore it is reasonable to question how knowledgeable teachers are about HIV/AIDS and where their information is coming from. This study explored the knowledge and attitudes of general and special education teachers toward students with HIV/AIDS and investigated whether a relationship between knowledge and attitudes existed. Information was collected using the AIDS Knowledge and Attitude Survey (AKAS). The sample was limited to certified teachers resulting in 318 participants. Research questions were analyzed using descriptive statistics, frequencies, t-tests, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), Scheffe post hoc analysis, and Pearson Product-Moment Correlation. Results indicated that general and special education teachers did not have complete knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Participants were knowledgeable regarding modes of transmission which may be the area of greatest concern for teachers, however, deficiencies were present within teachers' knowledge of general statements and facts and pathology. Among the ten demographic variables analyzed, six (gender, race/ethnicity, level of education, certification, instructional level taught, and classroom AIDS instruction) contained statistical significance. Analysis of attitudes indicated that general and special education teachers' overall attitudes toward students with HIV/AIDS were generally positive within clusters of Instruction and Fear, but not within Sensitivity and Communication. Among the ten demographic variables used for analysis only three (age, graduate enrollment status, and classroom AIDS instruction) produced statistical significance. Results found statistically significant relationships between Total Knowledge, all knowledge subtests, Fear, and Overall Attitudes. Statistical significance was also located on Total Knowledge, Pathology and Transmission knowledge subtests, and Sensitivity, as well as between Pathology and Instruction, and General Statements and Facts and Communication. The only variable determined to have statistical significance on both knowledge and attitudes was classroom AIDS instruction. Participants with previous AIDS instruction showed greater knowledge and possessed more positive attitudes. A review of previous research indicated training to be effective in increasing knowledge and fostering more favorable behavior toward persons with AIDS. Therefore, this study finds AIDS training to be beneficial for all teachers and is recommended during preservice education or through inservices for teachers already in the field.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Special education|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Pollack, Ellen, "General and special education teachers' knowledge of and attitudes toward students with HIV/AIDS" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9726722.