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The purpose of this study was to examine whether a 3-year programme of nursing studies enabled nursing students to graduate from the course with greater knowledge and more positive attitudes towards HIV infection and AIDS than when they began the course. Students on a maths and information technology course were used as controls. The study involved the use of a questionnaire which gathered information about students' experience, knowledge, attitudes and moral judgement regarding HIV infection and AIDS. The experimental hypothesis stated that nursing students show a greater increase in knowledge and positive attitude change towards HIV infection and AIDS than maths students. The results showed significant differences between third year nursing students' knowledge about HIV and AIDS when compared with other groups but it was noted that knowledge levels for all groups was quite low. There was no difference between first and third year nursing students' attitudes and moral judgement about HIV and AIDS but there was a significant difference between nursing students and maths students. It was suggested that there is a need to modify nurse education programmes in order to have greater impact on this topic area.