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  XVI International AIDS Conference
Toronto Canada
August 13 - 18, 2006
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47% of African- Americans Support HIV Conspiracy Theory, Study Finds
  "Are HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs barriers to HIV prevention among African Americans men residing in southern United States?"
Reported by Jules Levin
XVI IAC Toronto, Aug 2006
Authors: Sallar A.1, Bassey - Williams P.2, Omishakin A.3 1Ohio University, School of Health Sciences, Athens, United States, 2Global Health Education and Health Promotion Partnership Inc, Baltimore, United States, 3Mississippi Valley State University, Natural Science and Environmental Health, Itta Bena, United States
African Americans (AA) have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS compared to other ethnic groups. Although AA constitute 12% of the US population, in 2004 they accounted for 50% of the HIV/AIDS diagnosed. Knowledge about Tuskegee makes others believe in conspiratorial policies which may impart negatively on HIV prevention messages.
A cross sectional survey was conducted in 2005 with a convenient sample of 466 men aged 18- 55. Eligibility criteria included being sexually active, not employed in a health institution or allied health professions. They administered comprehensive culturally- sensitive and gender- specific survey instrument for the assessment in knowledge, myths and misconception; attitudes; and sexual behavior that act as barriers in HIV prevention, among AA male population living in urban and rural communities of Mississippi.
Of the respondents 68% were straight, 14.4% bisexual and 16.6%, MSM. Respondents sexual partners in the last 12 months were 1- 2 (54%); 3- 4 (25.7%); 5 and higher (20.2%) and 55.4% ever had an STD/HIV test. Mean HIV knowledge score was 21.7 (sdą8.9).
On whether HIV is a disease created by the US government to reduce or wipe out AA population, 47.2% reported yes, 39.7 % (no) and 9.2% (don't know).
Those who indicated "yes" were more likely to have been involved in the following: a "threesome" sex; exchanged sex for alcohol, drugs or money; had unprotected sex with someone who shoots drugs, used to shoot drugs, or who has had sex with drug user (p < 0.001); but less likely to consider HIV testing (p <0.001).
Almost three decades into the epidemic there still remains among AA myths, misperceptions and suspicions about the US government. Thus it is paramount to make removal of these misperceptions part of intervention messages. Containing the spread of HIV/AIDS in AA will require a multi level approach to promote education, awareness and STD/HIV testing.