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Discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS and associated factors: a population based study in the Chinese general population
  1. J T F Lau,
  2. H Y Tsui
  1. Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Joseph T F Lau
 Director, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 5/F, School of Public Health, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong;


Objectives: To examine the level of discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and factors in association with such attitudes.

Methods: A population based cross sectional telephone survey was conducted. A total of 808 Hong Kong Chinese aged 18–50 randomly selected from the general population participated in the study.

Results: Around 42% of the respondents exhibited discriminatory attitudes in at least five out of the 20 relevant items. For instance, about 42% would avoid making physical contact with PLWHA; 35% believed that all infected medical staff should be dismissed and about 47% would agree with enacting a law to prohibit PLWHA from visiting Hong Kong. A sizeable proportion of the respondents also hold negative perceptions about PLWHA (for example, 43.7% agreed that the majority of PLWHA are promiscuous, 20.7% thought that PLWHA are merely receiving the punishment they deserve, etc). Multiple regression analysis found that age, HIV related knowledge, the above mentioned negative perceptions about PLWHA, fear related to AIDS, and exposure to HIV related information were independent predictors of discriminatory attitudes towards PLWHA. About 30% would give PLWHA the lowest priority in resource allocation among five groups of patients with chronic diseases.

Conclusions: The general public in Hong Kong has formed some negative perceptions of PLWHA. Discriminatory attitudes towards PLWHA are common and cover different aspects of their life. Intervention programmes are warranted and an integrated approach is required.

  • DAS, Discriminatory Attitude Score
  • PLWHA, people living with HIV/AIDS
  • discrimination
  • Chinese

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  • The study was supported by the Hong Kong Council for the AIDS Trust Fund.

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