Adolescents are at an increased risk for contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as evidenced by increased infection rates and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) related deaths within this age group. The focus of this study was to assess the knowledge levels and attitudes of adolescents about HIV/AIDS. The theoretical framework that guided this study was Elkind (1993). Elkind (1993) believed that adolescents make decisions on such concepts as the personal fable and imaginary audience regardless of their knowledge level. Two research questions were addressed in this descriptive study : What are the knowledge levels of adolescents about HIV/AIDS? And what attitudes do adolescents have about HIV/AIDS? A convenience sample consisted of 78 students attending high school in the southeastern region of the United States. The Student Health Survey, developed by Brown (Brown, 198 9), was the instrument utilized in this study. Data analysis revealed that 100% of the students surveyed knew that the AIDS virus could be transmitted by sexual intercourse and intravenous drug (IV) drug use. Almost 95% of the participants knew that the AIDS virus could be transmitted perinatally. Greater than 89% of the participants knew that donated blood could be screened for the AIDS virus. Over 60% of the participants said that AIDS could be contracted from a nurse taking blood. Less than 13% of the sample knew that only latex condoms were effective against the transmission of the AIDS virus. Approximately 51% of the students knew that AIDS was not the same organism which causes venereal disease. Attitudes among adolescents about HIV/AIDS varied. Greater than 50% of the adolescents surveyed said they would feel comfortable touching, kissing, or going to the home of someone with AIDS. Approximately 82% of the participants said that kids with AIDS should attend school. The researcher concluded that the AIDS education program in the participating high school had addressed the four main modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS. However, many adolescents had incorrect knowledge about other basic information regarding HIV/AIDS. Implications for nursing include the need for additional education and validation of knowledge in the adolescent population to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. These findings emphasize the need for further research in the adolescent population focusing on how knowledge about HIV/AIDS impacts behaviors.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Bonnie E. Lockard

Second Advisor

Linda Sullivan

Third Advisor

Dr. Melinda E. Rush

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons