One-in-five don't know HIV is transmitted through unsafe sex

Published: February 18, 2011

The National AIDS Trust say there has been a worrying decline in knowledge and understanding of HIV over the past ten years.

A recent survey revealed that twenty per cent of respondents failed to identify sex without a condom between two men as a way in which HIV can be passed on when shown a list of possible routes.

This was particularly marked amongst African and Caribbean communities, who are more than twice as likely not to mention sex without a condom between two men as an HIV transmission route (49 per cent African/Caribbean vs. 20 per cent overall).
A fifth of people also didn’t identify sex without a condom between a man and a woman as an HIV transmission route.  These figures have fallen by 11 and eight percentage points respectively in the last decade.  Overall, one in 12 adults (8 per cent) did not identify sex without a condom – whether heterosexual or homosexual – as an HIV transmission route.
In addition, less than half of the public (45 per cent) believe HIV can be passed from person to person by sharing needles or syringes.  Only three in ten (30 per cent) were able to correctly identify all the ways HIV can and cannot be passed on.

The figures also showed one in ten people incorrectly believe HIV can be transmitted through impossible routes such as kissing (9 per cent) and spitting (10 per cent).  Even more worryingly, these percentages have doubled since 2007 (from 4 per cent and 5% per cent respectively).
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