Only one third of Beijing's university students say they are willing to have a classmate who is HIV positive, according to a survey conducted by the China Youth University for Political Sciences.
Of the 1089 students from 12 universities in Beijing, including Tsinghua University which is regarded as one of the best in China, 32.9 percent responded positively to having a HIV carrier as a classmate while 23 percent explicitly expressed their unwillingness.
Just fewer than 7 percent of the respondents believe HIV carriers should not be admitted to schools and 31 percent said they should only be allowed "with certain restrictions".
Nearly 4 percent believe HIV carriers should not be allowed to find employment and 43 percent said they should be allowed to have a job but only "with certain restrictions".
Three quarters of the respondents, however, said they would voluntarily take part in activities on AIDS prevention and promoting knowledge about AIDS, according to the survey.
"The undergraduates are generally more tolerant towards HIV carriers and have a better knowledge of ways to contract HIV, but horror and discrimination still manifest themselves in the survey, " Zhou Xiaochun, a member of the research group, said.
Zhou said such discrimination exists because a considerable proportion of respondents have the tendency to link AIDS with moral corruption.
About 26 percent said AIDS was an ethical issue and 50 percent replied that whether or not the disease concerned morality "depended on the means of transmission".
According to Zhou who has been giving lectures on HIV/AIDS to college students since 2003, the students usually still consider it a "challenge" to shake hands with or embrace a HIV carrier. Once they finally do it, they regard it as a "breakthrough" in their life, he said.
"Although they know this kind of contact will not make them sick, the students still experience a strong emotional reaction," Zhou said.
The survey also revealed that students lacked sufficient knowledge about AIDS -- almost a third of the respondents could not make a distinction between AIDS patients and HIV carriers.
(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)