The Current State of the Epidemic:
Why We Need to Step Up Our Efforts

6. Misconceptions are leading to more risk taking and less support for services

Misconceptions are having a negative effect on our ability to fight the epidemic. For example, young people in 2003 knew less about certain aspects of HIV, such as the risks associated with having more than one sexual partner, than they did in 1989.22 Even people at high risk have misconceptions: a significant proportion of gay men assume that young gay men are not infected or that they can "tell" when someone has HIV.23 Based on these assumptions, many are taking more risks and engaging in unsafe sex.

Misconceptions are also affecting public support for HIV/AIDS services. About 81% of Canadians think the treatments now available for HIV are effective, and 17% believe that if people with HIV are treated early the disease can be cured.24 These assumptions mean that people are less willing to give money to HIV/AIDS programs and services.

Footnotes

22
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study: Factors influencing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. 2003.

23
Adams BD, Husbands W et al. Renewing HIV Prevention for Gay and Bisexual Men. A Research Report on Safer Sex Practices Among High Risk Men and Men in Couples in Toronto. 2003.

24
EKOS Research Associates. HIV/AIDS -- An Attitudinal Survey. March 2003.

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