Characterising HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes in the Middle East and North Africa: Systematic review and data synthesis

Ghina R. Mumtaz, Nahla Hilmi, El Zahraa Majed, Laith J. Abu-Raddad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article reviews HIV/AIDS knowledge and attitudes in various population groups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and highlights their relevance to HIV epidemiology and the design and implementation of preventions and treatment efforts. PubMed and the MENA HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Synthesis Project database of grey/unpublished literature were searched. Levels of knowledge were categorised based on presence of basic knowledge, comprehensive knowledge, and misconceptions and misinformation. Attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) were classified into positive or negative. Basic knowledge was overall high among key populations at higher risk of infection (KPAR), and bridging and general population groups, but still a few population pockets had low basic knowledge. Level of comprehensive knowledge was overall low, and misinformation and misconceptions were prevalent. Some KPAR, including people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and female sex workers, were unaware of some modes of HIV transmission. Perception of risk of infection was low even among KPAR. We found differentials in knowledge putting women, rural populations, refugees, and other marginalised minorities at a disadvantage. Attitudes towards PLHIV tended to be negative. These findings are of concern, particularly for KPAR currently experiencing emerging HIV epidemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-298
Number of pages24
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes



  • epidemiology
  • knowledge and attitudes
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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