October 3, 2006
A poll released Monday shows that more than 40 percent of some 25,000 EU citizens surveyed take no precautions against HIV during intercourse. The Eurobarometer poll, conducted in September and October of 2005, found fewer people ages 16 and older in the 15 "old" member states said they practice safe sex than in a similar survey in 2002. Nearly half of respondents were poorly informed about HIV/AIDS risks, with those in the bloc's 10 newest member countries the most confused.
When asked whether they took precautions during sex, 41 percent of respondents said "no," and 48 percent said "yes." Some 42 percent of those polled in the 15 old member states said they used precautions, compared to 34 percent in the 10 new, mostly eastern EU states.
The poll revealed that misperceptions about HIV transmission were prevalent, particularly in new member states. Almost 45 percent of persons surveyed thought they could catch HIV/AIDS by sharing glasses, sitting on a toilet seat or donating blood. Forty-seven percent of Slovakians polled said HIV could be transmitted via kissing on the mouth, while 28 percent of Lithuanians thought sharing a drinking glass was a risk.
"We must not lose sight of the fact that HIV/AIDS is still one of the biggest preventable killers worldwide," said Markos Kyprianou, EU health commissioner. "I am most worried about the decreasing attention to protection."
UN figures show western Europe has over half a million HIV/AIDS cases, and the number is rising.