n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Perceptions and knowledge of elderly females of Ga-Rankuwa community of HIV risk : fallacies and myths : HIV/AIDS management and care

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Literature pertaining to the elderly shows that HIV infection among this population is on the increase, suggesting that the elderly population engages in activities that put them at risk of HIV infection. There are indications that people aged 50 years and more may know less about HIV than younger people. This study was carried out in Ga-Rankuwa, a black township in Gauteng Province, South Africa, to explore and describe the understanding of these elderly people regarding their risky behaviour as well as their perceptions and knowledge of HIV infection and AIDS. Using a qualitative, exploratory design, three focus group interviews were conducted with 32 women aged more than 50 years. Findings revealed that although the majority of participants had knowledge of how HIV is transmitted, and issues that put them at risk of infection, a few had misconceptions about HIV due to lack of knowledge, and believed that poor nutrition and sharing facilities can transmit HIV infection. Other myths upheld by these participants were that HIV can be transmitted by sharing bathroom facilities and that the virus is airborne. These misconceptions and myths of how HIV is transmitted point to limited knowledge of the subject on the part of these elderly participants. The lack of knowledge underscores the importance of effective HIV prevention efforts among this population group. Education interventions which are age-appropriate must be designed for older adults, and must emphasise the behaviours that put them at risk.

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