ERIC Number: ED375361
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994
An Essay on AIDS Education: The Mythology of Casual Contact.
Janowiak, John J.
Given the ambiguities and serious consequences of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), health professionals must not over simplify HIV transmission. An alarming paradox underlies HIV infection: a preventable disease rooted in human intimacy is reaching pandemic proportions. Well-publicized instances in which persons with AIDS have been shunned attest to concerns regarding HIV transmission. Recent surveys show that significant percentages of respondents believe that AIDS can be passed through casual contact. Although this may be due to some people's lack of authoritative information on AIDS and HIV, research on illness suggests that people tend to group contagious diseases like colds, chicken pox, and AIDS under one category; thus they apply a generic concept to any disease that falls into that category. Although no case of AIDS spread by casual contact has been reported, scientists have not declared such a happenstance as utterly impossible, only as highly improbable. The history, too, of the disease hampers clear thought. Since many people initially associated AIDS with specific populations, those with the disease have been stigmatized. Therefore, efforts to reduce irrational fears and the stigma surrounding AIDS should address concerns about contracting AIDS as well, and also should confront individual prejudices. Contains 14 references. (RJM)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A