Attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in China: research on public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in cities and towns

Attitudes towards HIV/AIDS in China: research on public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in cities and towns

Attitudes to AIDS in China

This short paper begins by providing a background to HIV/AIDS and its prevalence in China. The authors describes a number of challenges faced by the country in responding effectively to the HIV/AIDS epidemic

  • the population policy’s mandated use of long-term contraceptive methods, namely the IUD and sterilisation, has resulted in a general lack of knowledge and belief that condoms are an effective means of disease control
  • the policy encourages later marriage, which may increase pre -marital sex
  • rapid economic growth has resulted in an increase in the number of migrant workers who are away from their communities, families and spouses for long periods of time and who are more likely than non-migrants to visit sex workers
  • in traditional Chinese culture, sex and sexuality are not openly spoken about and sex education has been excluded from school curricula. Many young people have not received life skills education, and information on STD and HIV infection channels and preventative knowledge remains low
  • while the sale of unsafe blood has been curtailed, iatrogenic infection may play a more important role than anticipated

The paper describes a survey to discover more about people's awareness of the transmission of HIV/AIDS, self-protection from infection and behaviour and attitudes towards People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). It found high levels of awareness of HIV but low levels of knowledge about the use of condoms in preventing its spread. Disparities in HIV/AIDS awareness exist among people with different sociocutural backgrounds, with men knowing more than women and the young more than the old. Equally, those with higher levels of education, income or living in towns with higher levels of economic development know more about HIV/AIDS and its transmission than others.

The study also addressed stigma, self-awareness of risk, attitudes to condoms, and risk behaviour. It found overall high stigma levels and a culture of silence around sexual issues. Knowledge was somewhat higher among groups at high risk of infection, but the majority feel themselves to be at low risk and have little knowledge of transmission or how to prevent it. [adapted from author]

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