Relationship of African Americans' Sociodemographic Characteristics to Belief in Conspiracies About HIV/AIDS and Birth Control

Published in: Journal of the National Medical Association, v. 98, no. 7, July 2006, p. 1144-1150

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Laura M. Bogart, Sheryl Thorburn

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.nmanet.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Although prior research shows that substantial proportions of African Americans hold conspiracy beliefs, little is known about the subgroups of African Americans most likely to endorse such beliefs. The authors examined the relationship of African Americans' sociodemographic characteristics to their conspiracy beliefs about HIV/AIDS and birth control. Anonymous telephone surveys were conducted with a targeted random-digit-dial sample of 500 African Americans (15-44 years) in the contiguous United States. Respondents reported agreement with statements capturing beliefs in HIV/AIDS conspiracies (one scale) and birth control conspiracies (two scales). Sociodemographic variables included gender, age, education, employment, income, number of people income supports, number of living children, marital/cohabitation status, religiosity and black identity. Multivariate analyses indicated that stronger HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs were significantly associated with male gender, black identity and lower income. Male gender and lower education were significantly related to black genocide conspiracy beliefs, and male gender and high religiosity were significantly related to contraceptive safety conspiracy beliefs. The set of sociodemographic characteristics explained a moderately small amount of the variance in conspiracy beliefs regarding HIV/AIDS (R2 range=0.07-0.12) and birth control (R2 range=0.05-0.09). Findings suggest that conspiracy beliefs are not isolated to specific segments of the African-American population.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.