MAC AIDS Survey In Nine Countries Finds Misconceptions, Stigma

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A survey released on Tuesday by MAC AIDS Fundof people in Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Russia, SouthAfrica, the United Kingdom and the U.S. found misconceptions about theavailability of a cure for HIV/AIDS and the consequences of thedisease, as well as signs of stigma against HIV-positive people, Reuters Healthreports. Nearly 50% of respondents in the nine countries said theywould be uncomfortable walking next to an HIV-positive person, 52% donot want to live in the same house as an HIV-positive person and 79% donot want to date someone living with HIV/AIDS.

The survey involved 4,510 interviews with people in the nine countries (Brown, Reuters Health, 11/13). About 500 interviews in each country were conducted during a two-week period in September, Xinhua/China Viewreports. Respondents were surveyed via telephone or face-to-face incountries with limited phone access. The estimated margin of error is4.4% with a 95% confidence level per country (Xinhua/China View, 11/13).

About50% of survey respondents believed that most HIV-positive people arereceiving treatment, although only about 20% of HIV-positive peopleworldwide are receiving antiretroviral drugs. College graduates in theU.K. were more likely than those without a college degree to believethat most people living with HIV/AIDS do not receive treatment, thesurvey found (Reuters Health, 11/13). About 76% of respondents cited lack of treatment as a continuing problem (Xinhua/China View, 11/13).

Thesurvey found that 59% of people in India believed a cure for HIV isavailable. In addition, older adults in France and blacks in the U.S.were more likely than young people or whites to believe a cure isavailable (Reuters Health, 11/13). About 42% of people surveyed did not understand that AIDS is a fatal disease, according to the survey.

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About73% of respondents also said that the spread of HIV is fueled in partby women being uncomfortable discussing safer-sex practices with theirpartners. About 60% of respondents in all countries said "responsible"people could contract HIV, and 60% of respondents from Brazil, Chinaand Mexico said acting "responsibly" will protect people from HIVinfection. More than 25% of respondents said the virus could becontracted only through "sinful" behavior, the survey found.

Eighty-sixpercent of respondents said that stigma and shame associated with thevirus are contributing to its spread. Respondents in China reported themost discomfort in working with people living with HIV/AIDS, followedby respondents from Mexico. More than 30% of respondents in the U.S.said they would be uncomfortable working with an HIV-positive person.

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"Social stigmas ... are still limiting progress now," Nancy Mahon,executive director of MAC AIDS Fund, said, adding, "Understanding theinsights from this new survey ... is what will help take us to the nextlevel of policy, prevention and care in the fight against AIDS" (Xinhua/China View, 11/13).

MarshaMartin -- director of HIV/AIDS programs in the Oakland, Calif., mayor'soffice -- said the "most important general finding is that we have notdone a good enough job educating people about HIV: the facts andreality." Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the International Center for Research on Women,said the "most important message" for health care workers is that they"serve as role models in their interactions" with people at risk of HIVto "reduc[e] stigma" (Reuters Health, 11/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.

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