But encouragingly 70% understand that someone becoming infected with HIV in the UK is unlikely to die within three years and 74% say that people with HIV deserve the same level of support and respect as people with cancer.
’HIV: Public Knowledge and Attitudes 2010’, is number four in a series of surveys undertaken by NAT and conducted by Ipsos MORI.
The survey looks at public attitudes to HIV, assesses support for people living with HIV, levels of stigma and discriminations and general understanding of the virus and the transmission routes.
Deborah Jack, CEO of NAT, said: “As the number of people with HIV in the UK approaches 100,000, it is crucial for everyone to understand the facts around how HIV is passed on so they can protect themselves and others.
“Whilst HIV disproportionately affects gay men and Africans, the number of people with HIV who are not in these groups is steadily rising, and unfortunately there does still remain a serious amount of confusion around HIV transmission. Many people are unaware of the basics such as using a condom to protect themselves, whilst myths such as transmission from kissing and spitting are still perpetuated.
“It is certainly positive to see the majority of the public have supportive attitudes towards people with HIV, but there are still huge gaps in awareness of what it means to live with HIV in the UK today.
“For example, the fact that an HIV positive mother can have a healthy baby and being HIV positive can still mean a near normal lifespan.
“Whilst HIV treatment has advanced rapidly in the last ten years, knowledge and attitudes have sadly not kept pace – resulting in stigma and discrimination. Successfully addressing HIV stigma is vital, not just so people living with HIV are treated fairly, but also so everyone feels confident to test for HIV and talk about HIV related risk.0
“The survey indicates there is a link between knowledge and attitude. Those who understand the facts about HIV transmission are more likely to have a supportive attitude than those who are confused or hold false beliefs. Stigma and discrimination is often borne out of fear of infection – based on misconception around transmission- they can also arise from broader perceptions and judgements about people who have HIV.”
- One in five adults do not realise HIV is transmitted through sex without a condom between a man and a woman
- Only three in ten adults (30%) can correctly identify, from a list of possible routes, all of the ways HIV is and is not transmitted
- An increasing proportion of adults incorrectly believe HIV can be transmitted by impossible routes such as kissing and spitting
- Nearly a fifth of adults (19%) believe if a family member was HIV positive it would damage their relationship with them
- More than two thirds of British adults (68%) agree more needs to be done to tackle prejudice against people living with HIV in the UK