Common sense tells us that discriminatory attitudes towards people who are HIV seropositive are a consequence of inaccurate knowledge about HIV transmission and means of protection. In this chapter we shall first examine whether there is a relationship between knowledge and discrimination. We shall also explore the possible existence of factors influencing both the level of knowledge about the disease and the degree of tolerance of persons with HIV or AIDS (PWHAs).
Such factors seem to exist. Preceding analyses (Chapters 12 and 13) have already shown that level of education is correlated both with knowledge of the disease and discriminatory attitudes towards PWHAs. As a rule, people who are relatively unknowledgeable about HIV and AIDS and those with feelings of discrimination were over-represented among the least educated respondents. Here, we shall explore the possible influences of three other factors, namely, mistrust, subjective perception of risk, and knowing a PWHA, on both knowledge of HIV/AIDS and discriminatory attitudes.
It has been shown elsewhere in Chapter 12 that a sizeable number of people express reservations and doubts about the validity of official medical discourse. Here, we should like to test whether what might be interpreted as ignorance of the disease might not reflect mistrust of prevention messages rather than a lack of information. First, respondents with very little or no