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Poor understanding of HIV-AIDS still prevalent

Misperceptions of HIV and AIDS are still prevalent in South Korea, with many overlooking prevention, a survey showed Wednesday.

According to a survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Korean Alliance to Defeat AIDS, 75.6 percent of respondents said they thought most AIDS patients contracted HIV from prostitution. Some 74 percent considered people with HIV or AIDS as those having a promiscuous sex life.

The survey was conducted with 1,000 individuals aged 15 to 59 in 15 cities through one-on-one interviews. It aimed to analyze public perception and level of awareness toward HIV and AIDS.

More than 70 percent said it would be difficult to get along with neighbors who have HIV or AIDS if they lived close by.
General impressions toward HIV and AIDS were also negative.

About 25 percent said words such as “death” and “incurable disease” came up first when thinking of HIV and AIDS, followed by “homosexuals,” “promiscuous life” and “prostitution.” The rest thought of words such as “fear” and “contagious disease.”

“Although AIDS is a chronic disease that would not affect life if sufficient care is given, many still misunderstand that AIDS is a serious illness that is linked to death,” the report said.

The level of awareness toward HIV and AIDS was also low.

Of the respondents, 35 percent thought that they could contract HIV through mosquitoes.

Yet, the majority of those surveyed overlooked the possibility of being infected with the virus. Almost 93 percent said they had a low possibility of contracting it, with 40 percent considering the possibility “very low.”

Nearly 89 percent said they had never taken an HIV test.

When asked about the scenario of being infected, about 40 percent responded that they would live alone without telling others. About 8 percent said they would consider making “a life or death decision.”

As of 2014, the number of Koreans with HIV or AIDS in the country exceeded 11,500, with 10 percent newly infected in the same year.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (

Korea Herald Youtube