Contagious Disease Public Health

American Views on HIV/AIDS

A survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation revealed the following regarding Americans opinions on HIV and AIDS:

  • 45 percent say they would be “very comfortable” in having their child having an HIV+ teacher, up from 36 percent in 2011.
  • 79 percent say that everyone with HIV in the U.S. should get treatment regardless of their ability to pay. A smaller majority would be willing to pay higher taxes to make sure everyone gets treatment (56 percent).
  • Many Americans are not aware of the potential value of treatment as a prevention tool. About half (49 percent) say that HIV treatment helps prevent its spread to others while another 44 percent believe that treatment does nothing to help prevent the spread of HIV.
  • A clear majority (58 percent) now say that the world is making progress on HIV, while just 18 percent believe the world is losing ground. This is in sharp contrast to 2002, when nearly half (45 percent) felt the world was losing ground and about a third (35 percent) said the world was making progress.
  • Two‐thirds of the public (66 percent) agrees that “the U.S. should address problems at home first rather than spending more money to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries,” while a much smaller share (22 percent) feel more strongly that “the U.S. is a global leader and has a responsibility to spend more money to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries.”
  • Blacks are about 2.5 times as likely to be ‘very concerned’ about becoming personally infected with HIV than the average person. Blacks and Latinos are more likely to talk to their doctor or their partner/spouse about AIDS than Whites.
  • 45 percent of individuals know someone who has AIDS, has died from AIDS or has tested positive for HIV.

Of particular interest is the finding that one in ten people think HIV/AIDS is the most urgent health problem. This ranking falls behind cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, health insurance and health care cost. The fact that obesity is seen as a more serious problem then HIV/AIDS is likely due to the media’s excess focus on obesity as a health problem and decreased coverage of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

Some good news is that HIV testing is becoming easier. Recently, the FDA approved an HIV Home Test Kit that provides the results within 20 minutes.


  1. Two types of HIV have been characterized: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the virus that was initially discovered and termed both LAV and HTLV-III. It is more virulent, more infective, and is the cause of the majority of HIV infections globally. The lower infectivity of HIV-2 compared to HIV-1 implies that fewer of those exposed to HIV-2 will be infected per exposure. `’..;

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