Are HIV/AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs a Barrier to HIV Prevention Among African Americans?

Published in: Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, v. 38, no. 2, Feb. 1, 2005, p. 213-218

Posted on RAND.org on January 31, 2005

by Laura M. Bogart, Sheryl Thorburn

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OBJECTIVES: This study examined endorsement of HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs and their relations to consistent condom use and condom attitudes among African Americans. METHODS: The authors conducted a telephone survey with a random sample of 500 African Americans aged 15 to 44 years and living in the contiguous United States. RESULTS: A significant proportion of respondents endorsed HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs. Among men, stronger conspiracy beliefs were significantly associated with more negative condom attitudes and inconsistent condom use independent of selected sociodemographic characteristics, partner variables, sexually transmitted disease history, perceived risk, and psychosocial factors. In secondary follow-up analyses, menb2ss attitudes about condom use partially mediated the effects of HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs on condom use behavior. CONCLUSIONS: HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs represent a barrier to HIV prevention among African Americans and may represent a facet of negative attitudes about condoms among black men. To counter such beliefs, government and public health entities need to work toward obtaining the trust of black communities by addressing current discrimination within the health care system as well as by acknowledging the origin of conspiracy beliefs in the context of historical discrimination.

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