HIV-Related Stigma and Knowledge in the U.S., 1991-1999

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5. Misinformation about HIV transmission through casual contact increased over the 1990s


Virtually all respondents understood that HIV can be spread through sharing needles and unprotected sex with an infected partner, but many did not understand how HIV is not transmitted.

Throughout the decade, roughly half of the respondents believed that AIDS could be contracted from sharing a drinking glass.

In 1991, somewhat fewer than half believed that AIDS could be spread through a cough or sneeze; the proportion expressing this belief peaked at 54% in 1997, and then declined to 50% in 1999.

About one third of 1991 respondents believed that AIDS could be contracted from a public toilet, and the proportion increased significantly to nearly 41% by the end of the decade.  
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Item Wording

"These next questions are about the different ways some people think AIDS might be spread. As I read each of the following, please tell me how likely you think it is that a person could get AIDS or AIDS virus infection in that way."

Drinking glass: "How about sharing a drink out of the same glass with someone who has the AIDS virus? Would you say if someone does that they're very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, very unlikely to get AIDS, or is it impossible to get AIDS from sharing a glass with someone who has the AIDS virus?"

Public toilets: "How about by using public toilets?

Cough/sneeze: "How about from being coughed on or sneezed on by someone who has the AIDS virus?"

Graphic shows the proportion responding "very likely," "somewhat likely," or "somewhat unlikely."



From: Herek, G. M., Capitanio, J. P., & Widaman, K. F. (2002). HIV-related stigma and knowledge in the United States: Prevalence and trends, 1991-1999. American Journal of Public Health, 92(3).
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