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Perceived HIV/AIDS Prevalence, Burden, and Risk, Cape Town, South Africa

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Objectives : To examine perceived HIV prevalence and disease burden in high-risk adults in Cape Town, South Africa.

Methods : A convenience sample of 793 male and 188 female sexually transmitted infection clinic patients completed anonymous surveys.

Results : Individuals who saw themselves at greater risk for HIV/AIDS also perceived greater local HIV prevalence. Participants presented extremely distorted views of local HIV prevalence that exceed the reality in Cape Town. Perceiving greater local AIDS burden was independently associated with condom use.

Conclusions : Interventions that accurately place local AIDS burden in the context of places with relatively lower burden may activate protective motivations.

Keywords: AIDS behavior; HIV risk; Intuitive epidemiology; perceived prevalence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Professor, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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