Introduction AIDS vaccine is seen as the ultimate prevention tool that will complement the existing prevention strategies in place. Patients participate in HIV vaccine trials with hope that developing a safe and effective AIDS vaccine is possible. To begin to understand adolescent attitudes to these complex issues, and inform our future work with adolescents in HIV vaccine trials, we undertook a formative study examining attitudes towards such trials, potential motivating factors and hypothetical willingness to participate, among youth.
Methods A self-administered, facilitated questionnaire was administered to 277 students in pre university colleges, Mangalore, India from August 2012 to February 2013. The questionnaire explored general HIV knowledge, perception of adolescent risk, knowledge of vaccine concepts, willingness to participate in future vaccine trials, perceived personal and social harms and benefits associated with participation as well as barriers and facilitators to participating in future HIV vaccine trials.
Results 277 college-going youth provided consent to participate, and if under 18, we also obtained written consent from a parent. Of the 241 participants who responded to the question on HIV testing, 10% indicated that they have tested for HIV. Of the majority (57%) of participants believed that parents should give permission for their child’s HIV test while most of the participants (84%) believed that parents should know the HIV status of their child.
Conclusion The youth report high degrees of willingness to participate in HIV vaccine trials. This may be related to the high levels of adolescent HIV risk perception. The spectre of HIV infection looms regardless of age group, and adolescents are no exception. Indeed, public health practice would seem to say that effective vaccination of this subgroup above all would result in the greatest reduction in new infections.
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