Survey shows ignorance among Scots about HIV facts

Annie Lennox being interviewed on the Andrew Marr show Annie Lennox is supporting the campaign to tackle the stigma surrounding HIV

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More than half of Scots do not know all the ways HIV is transmitted, according to a new survey.

One in 10 (11%) wrongly believe it can be passed by kissing.

A small percentage think it can be spread by sharing a glass (3%) or touching a public toilet seat (2%).

The findings were released as part of a campaign, backed by singer Annie Lennox, to tackle the stigma around HIV in Scotland, where it affects almost 6,000 people.

The charity Waverley Care commissioned YouGov to carry out an online survey as part of its Always Hear campaign.

The findings suggested a lack of general knowledge about HIV.

More than 1,000 people were questioned, with 54% of them unable to correctly identify all of the ways HIV is and is not transmitted from a list of possible routes.

'Stigma and prejudice'

Almost a quarter (23%) were unaware that someone with the disease can live for more than 20 years, while 15% mistakenly thought someone with HIV cannot have a baby who is HIV negative.

Start Quote

These new findings prove that there are still awareness gaps about HIV in Scotland”

End Quote Grant Sugden Waverley Care

The study found that the majority of people (87%) had sympathy for those with the disease and 3 out of 4 Scots (73%) think more needs to be done to tackle stigma and prejudice against people living with HIV in Scotland

Annie Lennox, an HIV activist, from Aberdeen, said: "Stigma is one of the biggest challenges facing the diagnosis and treatment of HIV in Scotland and around the world today.

"HIV treatment has improved dramatically over the last 20 years, but discrimination of the condition still means that people are scared to get tested.

"HIV stigma fuels people's fear to test, which in turn leads to new infections as people don't know whether they have HIV or not."

She added: "That's why I'm backing Waverley Care's Always Hear campaign to tackle the myths and stigma surrounding HIV in a bid to stop new infections and improve life for people living with the condition today."

Grant Sugden, Waverley Care's chief executive, said: "It's hugely positive to see that the majority of Scots have supportive attitudes towards people living with HIV, and feel that more needs to be done to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that prevails in our society.

"However, these new findings prove that there are still awareness gaps about HIV in Scotland, which needs to be addressed.

"With almost 6,000 people living with HIV in Scotland, it's vital that more time and effort is spent educating the public so that we can hear the truth about HIV, eradicate the fear and ultimately put an end to the stigma that surrounds the condition."

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