Thursday, 13 October 2011

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40% of Indians shun doctors who treat HIV patients: survey

Conducted by the US-based MAC AIDS Fund, in nine countries across four continents, this latest study finds that prejudice, fear and stigma continue to exclude people living with AIDS from the mainstream.

More than 40% of Indians are uncomfortable about sharing doctors with HIV/AIDS patients, and slightly fewer, or 30% of Americans, say they are uncomfortable working with someone who has HIV/AIDS, according to the findings of a new global survey on attitudes towards the disease.

Conducted by the US-based MAC AIDS Fund in nine countries across four continents, and released ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, the study found that prejudice, fear and stigma continue to exclude people living with AIDS from the mainstream.

Despite holding onto this fear, however, people do understand that all segments of the population are at risk of contracting HIV, the survey found. Three in five (or around 60%) of global respondents recognise that "responsible" people can contract HIV; yet, more than one-quarter, or 25%, believe you can only get the disease through "sinful" behaviour.

Across many countries, a majority of people surveyed were not comfortable interacting on an intimate level with people who were HIV-positive. Nearly half are uncomfortable about the prospect of working alongside those who have the disease; 52% do not want to live in the same house with someone who is HIV-positive; and 79% are not comfortable dating someone who has HIV or AIDS.

The study by the philanthropic arm of the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder-owned MAC Cosmetics, shockingly reveals that after a quarter of a century of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, nearly half of people still do not view it as a potentially fatal disease. Globally, more than 40% of respondents do not understand that AIDS always results in death. Many people mistakenly believe there is currently a cure for HIV.

While 79% of Indians surveyed understood that AIDS is always fatal, a high 59% wrongly believed that there is a cure for HIV available today.

In France, older adults are twice as likely as young people to think there is a cure for HIV, and nearly three in five do not understand that AIDS is fatal.

In the United States, African-Americans are twice as likely as Whites to believe there is a cure for HIV.

Ironically, in a collusion of opinion and fact, this first-ever perception audit also found that 86% of adults in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa believe stigma and shame to be a contributor to the spread of HIV. Seventy-six per cent report lack of access to treatment to be a problem.

"Today, more than 25 years after the emergence of the disease, it is startling to learn that facts about HIV/AIDS are still a guessing game for much of the world, and that many are still in the dark about the undeniable reality that HIV/AIDS remains a top global killer," says Nancy Mahon, executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund. "Social stigmas that plagued us then are still limiting progress now. Understanding the insights from this new survey, however, is what will help take us to the next level of policy, prevention and care in the fight against AIDS."

The survey was conducted during a two-week period in September 2007. Approximately 500 interviews were conducted in each of the nine countries. All nine countries are weighted equally in the totals presented to ensure that countries with larger populations did not dominate the results. Adult respondents were surveyed via phone, using random-digit-dial techniques, and face-to-face in countries where phone access is less universal (South Africa, India, Mexico and Brazil). The survey was administered in official in-country languages.

Source: ICNS, December 1, 2007
              www.yahoonews.com, December 1, 2007