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American Journal of Public Health Research. 2019, 7(1), 14-20
DOI: 10.12691/ajphr-7-1-3
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The HIV Epidemic and Cognitive Psychology: Negative Affect and Associative Imagery of HIV/AIDS among Young Adults in Cameroon

Derick Akompab Akoku1, , Mbah Abena Tihnje1, 2, Elisabeth Oben Tarh3, Elvis Enowbeyang Tarkang4 and Robinson Enow Mbu3, 5

1Community Research and Training Institute, Yaounde, Cameroon

2Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, HIV Free Survival Project, Yaounde, Cameroon

3Ministry of Public Health, Yaounde, Cameroon

4School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana

5Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon

Pub. Date: January 25, 2019

Cite this paper:
Derick Akompab Akoku, Mbah Abena Tihnje, Elisabeth Oben Tarh, Elvis Enowbeyang Tarkang and Robinson Enow Mbu. The HIV Epidemic and Cognitive Psychology: Negative Affect and Associative Imagery of HIV/AIDS among Young Adults in Cameroon. American Journal of Public Health Research. 2019; 7(1):14-20. doi: 10.12691/ajphr-7-1-3


Background: Although HIV/AIDS negatively affects socio-economic development in many countries, there are limited studies that have applied concepts in cognitive psychology to investigate population level attitudes towards HIV/AIDS. The objectives of this study were to: (1) investigate the affective imagery of HIV/AIDS; and (2) identify the predictors of “worry” about the negative consequences of HIV/AIDS among young adults. Methods: A population-based study was conducted in Kumba, Southwest Cameroon among youth aged 21-35 years. Data were collected from September to October 2016 by trained interviewers using paper-based questionnaires. Respondents were asked the extent to which they were worried about the negative consequences of HIV/AIDS on themselves, family, community, society, current and future generation. Respondents were also asked to identify the first thought/image that comes to their mind when they think of HIV/AIDS. Qualitative data were analyzed by the grounded theory tradition while weighted hierarchical linear regression was used to analyse quantitative data to identify the predictors of worry about the negative consequences of HIV/AIDS. The statistical level of significance was set at p<0.05. Results: The median age of the 767 respondents who participated in the study was 26 years (IQR: 23-29), 58.2% were males while 41.8% were females. 68.1% of respondents had negative feelings about the consequences of HIV/AIDS. Respondents who attained high school education and above (β= 1.12, p<0.001), who had negative feelings about HIV/AIDS (β= 1.11, p=<0.001) and who had a high self-perceived risk of contracting HIV (β= 1.49, p<0.001) were significantly more likely to be worried about the negative consequences of HIV/AIDS. However, males (β=-0.75, p=0.003) compared to females were less likely to be worried about the negative consequences of HIV/AIDS. Most respondents associated HIV/AIDS to death and conjures images such as “death sentence”, “deadly disease”, “disease with no cure” and “killer disease”. This was followed by images associated with fear, sadness and anxiety. Conclusions: Most respondents were worried about the consequences of HIV/AIDS and associated the epidemic to death and fear. These findings underscore the need for the psychosocial and cognitive processes of young adults to be considered during the design of HIV prevention and risk communication messages.

HIV/AIDS psychology negative feelings epidemic images

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