Last week the Kaiser Family Foundation released “HIV/AIDS at 30” – its eighth survey since 1995 measuring American’s attitudes and understanding about HIV. The survey included a random sample of 2,583 adults and was conducted by telephone. While the results show that many Americans remain misinformed about how HIV disease is transmitted there appears to be a growing sensitivity to the plight of those with the disease.
About 20 percent of those asked said they would feel uncomfortable around a fellow employee with HIV. About 40 percent said they would be uncomfortable living with an HIV-positive person. Another 45 to 60 percent would feel varying levels of concern having someone with HIV prepare their food.
Yet 77 percent of respondents also acknowledge that people face some to a lot of discrimination and prejudice because they are HIV positive.
More than half of the respondents thought that the U.S. is making progress against HIV and AIDS but just seven percent view it as the country’s most pressing health problem today. In 1995, when the first Kaiser survey was conducted, more than 50 percent of respondents thought it was the number health issue.
And while it is clear people hear less about HIV AIDS today, still about 53 percent feel the government does not spend enough on HIV and AIDS and as many as two thirds of those surveyed worry people with the disease do not get the medications they need. Congress, the president and pharmaceutical companies, and other government and industry leaders all need to do more.
While the results provide a snapshot of encouraging and discouraging information on American public perceptions about HIV today, there is one statistic that gives hope — about 40 to 50 percent of young adult respondents said they would like to have more information on topics such as HIV prevention and testing. To see the complete results go to the Kaiser Family Foundation web site. We’ll also be adding top line survey information on our new web site in our HIV/AIDS Health Resources section.