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One-Quarter of Canadians Believe HIV Can Be Transmitted Through Kissing, Mosquito Bites, Poll Says

September 3, 2003

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

Approximately one in four Canadians believes HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through kissing and mosquito bites, indicating a "knowledge gap" in the general public regarding the disease, according to a recently released national poll commissioned by Health Canada, CanWest/Calgary Herald reports. Market research firm Ipsos-Reid in March administered the survey -- titled, "HIV/AIDS -- An Attitudinal Survey" -- by telephone to 2,004 Canadians over the age of 15. When participants were asked to name the ways that HIV can be transmitted, 6% of respondents named kissing, 2% named mosquito bites and fewer than 2% named casual contact, coughing or sneezing. However, when respondents were specifically asked about kissing, mosquito bites and coughing and sneezing as possible transmission routes, 25% indicated that kissing and mosquito bites could transmit the virus and 11% said that coughing and sneezing could spread the virus, CanWest/Herald reports. According to the poll, 84% of Canadians said that unsafe sex could transmit HIV; nearly 50% cited sharing injection drug needles as a transmission route; and more than 33% said that blood transfusions could transmit the virus. The poll also found that nearly 20% of participants thought that AIDS could be cured if it was caught and treated early.

The poll also found that "tolerance and comfort levels" around HIV-positive people were high "in theory" but not as much "in practice" among Canadians, CanWest/Herald reports. Approximately 75% of participants said that they did not believe people living with HIV/AIDS "have gotten what they deserve." However, researchers posed a series of six scenarios as part of the poll and found that less than 75% of respondents showed tolerance or acceptance when in "direct contact" with HIV-positive people. According to the report, nearly one in four Canadians surveyed showed a "low level of comfort" with HIV/AIDS, meaning that they said they would be comfortable in only one or two of the six scenarios, compared with 41% who indicated comfort in two or three scenarios and 35% who indicated a high level of comfort. According to current estimates, 49,800 Canadians were HIV-positive in 1999, the most recent year for which data is available. However, the actual number of HIV-positive people could be higher because health experts estimate that 30% of all HIV-positive people in Canada are not aware of their status, CanWest/Herald reports (Aubry, CanWest/Calgary Herald, 9/1).

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Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.


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