AIDS-Related Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors in Los Angeles County

by David E. Kanouse, Sandra H. Berry, Michael Gorman, Elizabeth Yano, Sally Carson, Allan Abrahamse


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This report documents the results of a telephone survey conducted between October 1989 and January 1990 on a random sample of 1,305 adult residents of Los Angeles County. The survey measured knowledge about transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, the occurrence of sexual and drug-related risk behaviors linked to HIV transmission, and attitudes and opinions about the AIDS epidemic. Results indicate that the overwhelming majority of adult county residents do not behave in ways that place them at risk of becoming infected with HIV. Intravenous drug use is extremely rare, and most potentially "high-risk" sexual activity occurs in relationships between steady partners. Virtually the entire adult population of Los Angeles County now knows how HIV is transmitted, but many people still overestimate the risk of transmission through casual contact. Results suggest that prevention efforts should be directed at the groups most likely to engage in risky behavior and that AIDS education of the broad population should seek to correct persistent misperceptions about the risk of transmission through casual contact while maintaining public awareness of the major ways HIV is transmitted and how people can avoid becoming infected.

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