Survey Indicates ‘Serious Misconceptions’ About HIV/AIDS in Poland
Many people in Poland "hold serious misconceptions" about HIV/AIDS, according to a "small" survey conducted by the country's United Nations Development Programme office, Reuters Health reports. The survey found that 40% of respondents thought HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through insect bites; 29.6% believed that someone could become infected by using public toilets and baths; and 26% said that they could be infected by cutlery used by an HIV-positive individual, according to Reuters Health. The "low level" of public knowledge could increase complacency about HIV and increase chances for a "fresh" outbreak of the virus in Eastern Europe. "It has the limitation of being a small survey but there is clearly a big problem," Anna Marzac-Buguslawska, director of Poland's National AIDS Center, said. More than 50% of survey respondents also said that they would prefer to hire people with cancer or cardiac problems than HIV-positive individuals. Henryk Banazac, a co-author of the survey, said that public knowledge of the disease in Poland has "deteriorated" over recent years, according to Reuters Health. Marzac-Buguslawska said that education and prevention methods account for 8% of Poland's HIV/AIDS budget, while most of the funding goes toward care and support. According to the World Health Organization, Eastern Europe and Central Asia had the world's fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic last year, with one-fifth of the regions' 1.2 million HIV patients becoming infected in 2002, Reuters Health reports. "Not only must we be vigilant to prevent infection, but we must also broaden public awareness of the dignity and human rights of HIV-infected persons, and it is our duty to ensure that there is no discrimination against them," Colin Glennie, head of Poland's UNDP office, said (Glass, Reuters Health, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.