Survey Suggests Poland Needs More HIV Education
April 2, 2003
Despite Poland's success in treating HIV/AIDS, a small survey suggests that many people there have serious misconceptions about the disease, according to a report from Poland's UN Development Program. The low level of public knowledge is both encouraging complacency about HIV and increasing the risk of a new outbreak from Eastern Europe, the report said.Adapted from:
The UNDP-commissioned survey found that 40 percent of respondents believed HIV/AIDS can be contracted from insect bites; 29.6 percent feared infection in public toilets and baths; and 26 percent thought they could catch HIV from cutlery used by infected people. More than half of Polish employers would rather hire people with cancer or cardiac problems than people with HIV, said the report.
"It has the limitation of being a small survey but there is clearly a big problem," said Anna Marzac-Buguslawska, director of Poland's National AIDS Center. "We have a very good record of treating sufferers, perhaps better than any country in Central and Eastern Europe, but only 8 percent of the budget for the disease goes on education and other prevention methods," she said. Henryk Banazac, the report's coauthor, said public knowledge had deteriorated over recent years and is now "frighteningly low."
The report notes that Poland is on the edge of a region with very serious problems with HIV/AIDS and that the epidemic's course is unpredictable. Latvia, for example, was also a low-prevalence county until recent, surprising increases. Last year, the World Health Organization announced that Eastern Europe and Central Asia had the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic with 1.2 million patients, a fifth of whom contracted the disease in 2002.
03.26.03; Nigel Glass