Many E.U. Residents Have Misconceptions About HIV Transmission, Report Says
Nearly 50% of people ages 15 years and older living in the European Union continue to have misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted, according to a survey released on Monday by the European Commission, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The survey was conducted from Sept. 2, 2005, through Oct. 6, 2005, and from Nov. 5, 2005, through Dec. 7, 2005 among 24,000 E.U. residents ages 15 and older living in the E.U.'s 25 member nations (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/2). According to the survey, 54% of respondents said that HIV can be transmitted through kissing, and 45% of the respondents said that sharing drinking glasses or toilet seats with or donating blood to HIV-positive people can result in transmission, Xinhua News Agency reports. Most of the respondents said they know that eating meals prepared by, shaking hands with or holding objects touched by HIV-positive people cannot result in HIV transmission.
Safer Sex Practices, Reaction
The survey finds that 42% of people living in the old E.U. member states -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom -- said they do not take increased precautions during sex, compared with 34% of people in the 10 new member states -- Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (Xinhua News Agency, 10/2). The poll also finds that fewer people in the old E.U. member countries use safer sex practices, compared with the findings of a similar survey conducted in 2002 (Reuters UK, 10/2). "We must not lose sight of the fact that HIV/AIDS is still one of the biggest preventable killers worldwide," European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, said, adding, "I am most worried about the decreasing attention for prevention. We have to promote education, the use of sterile needles and syringes, and especially safer sex as complacency leads in particular the young to underestimate the potential risk." He also said that although the survey "shows some progress in raising awareness of citizens on HIV/AIDS prevention," increased efforts need to be taken, especially among members of the new E.U. member states where the "epidemic is still strong and which border with countries where the epidemic is on the rise" (E.U. release, 10/2). The margin of error for the survey is between 1.9 and 3.1 percentage points (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/2).