Many Americans support more funding for HIV/AIDS

Americans are often sympathetic to people living with HIV/AIDS and would favor greater funding to address the domestic HIV/AIDS crisis, according to a report released Wednesday.

At the same time, however, the report indicates that for most of the general public, HIV/AIDS has largely fallen “off the radar.”

Moreover, many people still attach a stigma to infection and are unclear about how HIV is transmitted.

“Many people we spoke with had inconsistent views of HIV/AIDS,” lead researcher Jonathan Rochkind said in a statement. “Even though most people were aware of the primary ways HIV is transmitted, when presented with the idea of being in casual contact with people who are HIV positive, they often said that it was a possibility HIV could be transmitted that way and that they were concerned about the risk.”

Supported by the M*A*C AIDS Fund and underwritten by the National AIDS Coordinating Committee, the goal of the report - “Impressions of HIV/AIDS in America: A Report on Conversations with People throughout the Country” -was to provide a better understanding of what average Americans think about HIV/AIDS.

The report was created by interviewing people in five focus groups, which featured a cross-section of Americans living in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Several experts in HIV/AIDS also contributed to the report.

Subjects in each of the focus groups expressed concern that many people living with HIV/AIDS are unable to access the medications and other treatments they need.

“This study highlights the empathy people have for those living with HIV/AIDS and an understanding that access to medical care and drug treatment is critical,” Rebecca Haag, CEO and President of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the reality in this country is that about one half of those living with HIV/AIDS are not in care and treatment.”

Study participants were also generally supportive of increased funding for HIV/AIDS projects, especially those geared toward prevention, including education campaigns and research to create a vaccine.

While being sympathetic to HIV-infected individuals, many participants classified them as having “risky lifestyles.”

NEW YORK (Reuters Health)

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