Only 3.8 percent of Chinese know how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, according to a survey of 3,824 people in cities and villages throughout China.
The Guangming Daily said on Thursday the survey by the Ministry of Health and the People’s University of China asked people aged between 20 and 64 if HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through blood, semen, the air, food and from touching the skin of an infected person.
Only 3.8 percent correctly identified blood and semen as the only ways to become infected with HIV/AIDS, the newspaper said.
It said the survey, published on the eve of World AIDS Day, showed that 53.6 percent thought they could become infected by using chopsticks and bowls after an HIV-positive person had used them.
Another 49.5 percent thought they could become infected after sneezing and 29.5 percent through shaking hands.
And 45.3 percent thought that using a condom would not prevent infection.
“It’s worrying that people are unclear about the ways AIDS is transmitted and severely fear AIDS appearing,” Professor Bo Suiming of the People’s University was quoted as saying.
Efforts to promote sex education and the use of condoms often run into a wall of conservative attitudes in China.
Advertising or promoting condoms is also seen as uncomfortable in China, and China’s first national condom advert was banned initially last year because promoting sex products conflicted with China’s social conventions and morals.
HIV/AIDS sufferers sometimes experience prejudice from people.
A man named Hu, whose family became infected after his wife was given a blood transfusion in a hospital when she gave birth, was told by his boss to “go home and get better,” rather than go to the office, the Beijing Evening Daily said recently.
The Health Ministry is aware of the problem, said Edwin Judd, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in China.
“Vice Health Minister Yin Dakui was very forthright about this problem, beseeching the press to take this message out about the emergency nature of this problem,” said Edwin Judd.