Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces on Survey Results Indicating Some U.S. Blacks Believe AIDS Myths
A significant proportion of surveyed African Americans believe that U.S. government scientists created HIV to eradicate or control African-American populations, 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. 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 and nearly 27% of respondents saying 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 funded 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, 1/27). Several newspapers recently have published editorials and opinion pieces in reaction to the survey, some of which are summarized below.
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Health workers need to address African Americans' suspicions, "not dismiss them," because there is "ample evidence throughout U.S. history for African Americans to be suspicious of government-funded medical research," an Inquirer editorial says. In addition, the disproportionate HIV prevalence among African Americans is in part a "symptom of uneven access to health care," as approximately 25% of African Americans are uninsured, according to the editorial. "Persuading more minorities about the benefits of medicine does little without providing the insurance coverage to prove it," the editorial concludes (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/30).
- Jarvis DeBerry, New Orleans Times-Picayune: "[W]hatever" has caused U.S. blacks to believe in various myths about HIV/AIDS, the commonly held belief that HIV is a manmade disease has resulted in many blacks "not taking the preventive measures to stay disease-free," columnist DeBerry writes in a Times-Picayune opinion piece. "There's simply no reason why" HIV should be spreading "rapid-fire" and causing "such destruction" in the United States, according to DeBerry. In order to combat the spread of HIV in black communities, "[w]e're going to have to be honest with ourselves and admit that we've long known the ways to protect ourselves from infections but have participated in a conspiracy of silence that has proved deadly," DeBerry concludes (DeBerry, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1/28).