More Than 25% of Scottish Residents Cannot Identify Main Routes of HIV Transmission, Survey Finds
More than 25% of Scottish residents are unable to identify HIV's main transmission routes -- sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, injection drug use and mother-to-child transmission -- according to the recently released National AIDS Trust Public Attitudes to HIV survey, BBC News reports (BBC News, 1/17). About 6% of residents across the United Kingdom were able to identify correctly HIV's main transmission routes, the Metro reports (Metro, 1/16).
The survey also found that more than 35% of people living in Scotland did not know that HIV can be transmitted among men who have sex with men who do not use condoms, compared with 26% of residents throughout the United Kingdom. Almost one-third of Scottish residents also did not know that HIV can be transmitted through heterosexual sex when a condom is not used, compared with 21% of U.K. residents (BBC News, 1/17). Nine percent of U.K. residents in 2000 knew that HIV could be transmitted if a condom is not used during sex, according to the survey. In addition, 31% of people throughout the U.K., including in Scotland, did not know HIV can be transmitted through injection drug use, compared with 12% in 2000. More than two-thirds of people said that their relationships would not be affected if a friend or relative was diagnosed as HIV-positive, the survey found.
Deborah Jack, CEO of NAT, said in recent years, the United Kingdom has "witnessed knowledge and understanding about HIV decline at the same time that HIV diagnoses have reached an all-time high." She added that if current trends continue, more than 100,000 people will be living with HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom by 2010 (Metro, 1/16). Jack said that the "lack of awareness and understanding about HIV in Scotland is worrying," adding that the survey's findings show the public health community "cannot afford to be complacent about HIV education and awareness." She added that the Scottish government and local officials "must work together to reinvest" in HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs (BBC News, 1/17).
In related news, Scottish Public Health Minister Shona Robison on Wednesday launched a new program to increase access to sexual health information in rural areas, The Herald reports. Robison said that people living in rural areas have had increased difficulty in seeking confidential advice about sexual health. The three-year program will cost one million pounds, or about $1.9 million.
Robison said the Scottish government "has made plain its commitment to improving public health and tackling health inequalities." She added that it will "take time to reverse rising incidence of sexually transmitted infections," including HIV. According to The Herald, 345 new HIV cases were diagnosed in Scotland in 2006 (Dinwoodie, The Herald, 1/17).
The survey is available online (.pdf).