The public in big cities and small towns in China know shockingly little about the rapidity of the spread of HIV/AIDS in their country, a recent survey has shown.
The survey, conducted by European Future Group and Horizon Research among 6,835 adults in selected cities and towns across the country, found that less than 30 percent of the people surveyed know how to protect themselves from AIDS.
The cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu, as well as some small towns in the provinces of Central China's Hubei and East China's Jiangsu were covered in the survey.
Latest statistics from the Ministry of Health say that by June 2002, about 850,000 people in China had been infected with HIV. The figure is expected to increase by 300,000 by 2006.
The survey took a random sampling of adults with various educational backgrounds, ranging from the illiterate to post graduates.
The survey shows that although more than 93 percent and 82 percent residents in big cities and small towns respectively have heard of AIDS, they are not clear on how it is transmitted or how to protect themselves.
And further analysis shows that residents in big cities know more about AIDS and are more active than those in small towns in using condoms to protect themselves against HIV infection.
When asked if condoms could protect people from AIDS infection, only 31.5 percent of city residents and 23.5 percent of town residents answered "yes."
The research showed that people regard contraception as the most important function of condoms, while only 3 percent of the respondents use condoms to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.
Although some people are aware that AIDS exists in China, they still pay little attention to the use of condoms as protection against HIV infection.
"The reason for the lack of knowledge concerning AIDS transmission and protection is the lack of media propaganda and a fear of AIDS," said Cheng Feng, project manager of the China-UK HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project.
The survey reveals that 41 percent of big city residents and 31 percent of those in small towns think AIDS patients should be treated equally.
Furthermore, 68 percent of big city residents and 63 percent of small town residents said they would take care of relatives who had contracted AIDS.
Respondents supposed that people's attitudes towards relatives who had contracted AIDS would depend on the way that they got infected. Relatives would care for a patient who was ill due to a blood transfusion.
But if a family member got the disease from illegal sexual activity, the relatives would feel angry and insulted.
(China Daily September 23, 2002)