When it comes to spreading awareness of HIV, a new study suggests that simply teaching people the facts about how to protect themselves from HIV may not be enough to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa.
Researchers found that villagers in Ghana who had higher levels of cognitive and decision-making abilities - not just the most knowledge-were the ones who were most likely to take steps to protect themselves from HIV infection.
These cognitive abilities are what people develop through formal education, said Ellen Peters, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
"Knowledge about HIV and AIDS is important, but greater knowledge is not by itself leading people to take on healthier behaviours," Peters said.
"People really need the education that trains them how to think, to use their knowledge to plan for the future."
This is one of the first studies to show the importance of formal education in helping to prevent the spread of HIV, outside of research done in relatively well-educated Western countries, Peters said.
The study appears online in the journal Psychological Science and will be published in a future print edition.