Attitudes and Issues on HIV/AIDS: Fact Sheet
ABOUT THE STUDY
- Study was sanctioned by the Canadian Foundations for AIDS Research (CANFAR) and conductedthe CIHR Social Research Centre in HIV Prevention (SRC) at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
- The study examined the current attitudes, knowledge and perceptions of HIV and AIDS in Canada and what actions Canadians have taken to increase their knowledge of HIV and AIDS
- A total of 2,139 surveys were completed by Canadians 16 years of age or older, with all provinces and territories represented
- The study was conducted by random-digit dailing and online surveys
- Results were compared to similar studies conducted in 2003 and 2006 to determine how attitues and perceptions have changed
KEY RESEARCH FINDINGS
High Levels of Knowledge about HIV/AIDS are apparent
- High levels of self-rated knowledge about HIV/AIDS are apparent with in the population, with 93% of Canadians 16 years of age or older describing themselves as at least moderately knowledgeable (25% of all Canadians describe themselves as “very knowledgeable”).
- Knowledge that the HIV virus can be transmitted by sharing needles with an HIV infected person or by having sexual intercourse with an HIV infected person without a condom is near universal, with 99% of Canadians reporting awareness of both means of transmission.
- A substantial majority of Canadians (82%) are also aware that HIV can be transmitted from an HIV-infected mother to her baby when giving birth. Canadians are less aware, however, that HIV can be transmitted for a mother to her baby when breastfeeding (36% aware).
- More than eight-in-ten Canadians are aware that the body of a person living with HIV/AIDS cannot defend itself against common illnesses (84%) and that HIV-infected individuals can have no signs or symptoms of the infection (82%).
- The vast majority of Canadians are aware that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS (85%).
Canadians More Comfortable in interacting with people living with HIV/AIDS than they were five years ago
- Substantial and increasing majorities of Canadians report that they are comfortable interacting with people living with HIV/AIDS in several situations.
- Today, more than three quarters of Canadians would be comfortable working in an office where someone had HIV/AIDS (those who report that they would be “very comfortable” is up 7 points from 42% in 2006 to 49% in 2011)
- Almost three-quarters (72%) would be comfortable shopping at a small neighbourhood grocery store where the owner had HIV/AIDS (those who would be “very comfortable” is up 4 points since 2006 and up 8 points since 2003).
- Six-in-ten (60%) Canadians would be comfortable if their child was attending a school where one of the students was known to have HIV/AIDS. Those who would be “very comfortable” is up 5 points since 2006.
Canadians believe that treatments are effective in helping people with HIV/AIDS
- Nine-in-ten (89%) Canadians believe that treatments are at least somewhat effective in helping people living with HIV/AIDS lead normal lives, a 9 point increase over findings collected in 2006.
Some Scepticism around the Effectiveness of Condom Use is apparent
- While more than nine-in-ten Canadians (94%) believe that condoms are at least somewhat effective in reducing the sexual transmission or spread of HIV/AIDS, only 50% of the population views them as “very effective.”
Condom Use is Disappointing among those with multiple or casual sexual partners
- While Canadians who have had two or more sexual partners in the last year are much more likely than those with only one partner to report using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, the majority - almost six-in-ten (57%) – of those with 2 or more partners report that they did not use a condom.
Testing for HIV/AIDS is not prevalent enough, especially among those with multiple or casual sexual partners
- Almost half (47%) of Canadians have never been tested for HIV/AIDS.
- Seventeen percent (17%) of Canadians report that they have been tested specifically to find out if they were infected with HIV (rather than for a range of other reasons including for insurance purposes, when donating blood, etc.).
- The proportion tested among those with 2 or more sexual partners in the last year or casual partners is higher than within the general population, but majorities in both of these groups report that they have not been tested for HIV/AIDS specifically to find out if they were infected.
Canadians tend to believe that many infected with HIV/AIDS do not know they are infected
- Almost eight-in-ten (78%) Canadians believe to a large or moderate extent that one-quarter of people infected with HIV in Canada do not know that they have the infection. Almost half (47%) believe this claim to a large extent.