Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Survey Finds HIV Misinformation Rife in Colombian Military

A few days ago we highlighted how stigmas on HIV/AIDS are one of the main factors impacting Latinos in the U.S.  Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, highlighted that aside from stigmas a “lack of education around sex and safe sex practices are major contributors to the epidemic”. The same can be said about other countries around the world.

According to the Colombian press, misinformation on HIV/AIDS is rampant among members of the country’s armed forces.  A survey conducted by the Ministry of Defense reportedly found that 70% of troops falsely believed that HIV can be spread via mosquito bites.  The survey also revealed that most of the 879 respondents believe that condom use is not required with “close acquaintances” though they should be used when visiting brothels.

“There still exists a perception of low risk of infection.  Approximately half or less (of the respondents) believe that using protection with casual partners prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or herpes,” said military researcher Coronel Nohora Rodríguez to

Ironically none of the respondents was infected with HIV/AIDS though fifty of them admitted that they were infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Colombian military brass is disappointed with the survey’s results and, thus, is launching a campaign designed to stop the spread of misinformation:

The Advanced Plan, launched by the Ministry of Defense, includes a series of recommendations to prevent the spread of STDs among the military such as avoiding promiscuity and visiting brothels. Training academies are working to raise awareness in areas such as sexual violence and the rights of women, adolescents and children.  The Ministry’s aim is that the military voluntarily take part in these campaigns in order to prevent discrimination. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control studies conducted by that agency and other researchers concluded that mosquito bites do not transmit HIV.  Yet as seen in the embedded video at the top of this post, a report by the Ugandan government found that half of the country’s population believes that mosquitos spread HIV.  That false belief is also shared by one of three respondents of a survey carried out in Spain this year.

Video Source– YouTube via user ntvuganda

Online Sources - Centers for Disease Control, El Tiempo, Cascara Amarga

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