Canada: AIDS Myths Persist, New Report Finds
July 13, 2007
Inaccurate beliefs about AIDS, including persistent urban myths, continue to circulate among some young male Canadians and are contributing to AIDS stigma, a new government report finds.
The study was conducted by Ekos Research Associates for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Researchers conducted 20 focus groups composed of men ages 18 to 25 in eight Canadian cities. It found that certain urban legends -- one involving a depressed woman with HIV seeks to deliberately infect her sex partners, leaving a behind a note that reads, "Welcome to the world of AIDS"; another describing how a man used HIV-tainted blood in a syringe to infect people at random -- were especially prevalent among young men with a high school education or less.
"Participants said that fear of dying from incidental contact and fear of being around dying or suffering people are the drivers of discrimination and stigma around HIV/AIDS," the report said. "Those participants with the least accurate information about HIV/AIDS contraction were the most likely to exhibit stigmatizing beliefs."
"Stigma related to homophobia or negative attitudes about drug use or sexual behavior were present, but not 'top of mind' concerns of most participants. Discomfort around homosexuals is more common among participants who had no more than a high school education," according to the report.
Jean Riverin, a spokesperson for PHAC, said the report demonstrates the need to target young men with accurate messages about HIV/AIDS. In response, the agency is developing several community-based informational campaigns that will be offered through nongovernmental organizations.
Halifax Daily News
07.08.2007; CanWest News Service
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.