Findings of HIV/AIDS Myth Survey Indicate Tuskegee Experiment ‘Looms Large in Consciousness’ of African Americans, Editorial Says
The finding that many African Americans believe HIV/AIDS was created by the U.S. government to eradicate the black community and that they feel as if they are "doomed to catch a preventable disease" is "proof that the federal government's shameful Tuskegee experiment still looms large in the consciousness of many black Americans," a New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial says (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/26). According to a telephone survey conducted by RAND Corporation and Oregon State University and published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, a significant proportion of surveyed African Americans believe that U.S. government scientists created HIV to eradicate or control African-American communities. Nearly half of respondents said they believe that HIV is manmade, with approximately 12% saying they believe HIV was created and spread by the CIA, according to the study. Nearly 27% of respondents agreed that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory." In addition, about 16% of respondents agreed that the government created HIV to control the black population, and about 15% agreed with a statement saying that AIDS is a form of genocide against African Americans. The study, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, found that men were more likely than women to believe HIV/AIDS-related conspiracy theories and that African-American men who have such beliefs are less likely to use condoms to protect against HIV transmission (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/25). The Tuskegee experiment -- in which researchers studying the progression of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis denied treatment to African-American men in Alabama, while telling them they were receiving the best syphilis treatment available -- was "pernicious enough on its own, but it would be even more tragic if it left legions of AIDS victims in its wake," the editorial concludes (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.