Date Published: 4 July 2007

Survey highlights shocking ignorance about HIV, 25 years after death of Terry Higgins

People are still alarmingly ignorant about HIV, finds a survey published today by Terrence Higgins Trust to mark the 25th anniversary of Terry Higgins’ death.

  • More than one in ten 18 – 24 year-olds think HIV can be passed on through kissing.
  • Almost a quarter of them believe that condoms have holes in them which let HIV through.
  • More than one in five 18 – 24 year-olds think there is a cure for HIV.

Knowledge about HIV is not only poor among young people. Across all age groups 28% of people either thought that condoms had holes in which let HIV through or said they didn’t know, 12% thought that sharing cutlery carried a risk of HIV transmission and 10% thought you can be infected through sweat. Crucially just 36% of respondents thought they received good sex education at school.

Nick Partridge, Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust said:

It’s frightening that 25 years after Terry Higgins’ death, this level of confusion exists. The lack of good sex education means many young people are leaving school ignorant about HIV and safer sex. HIV is now the fastest growing serious health condition in the UK, and there is no cure. It’s time to get our facts straight.

25 years ago today, Terry Higgins was among the first people to die with AIDS in the UK. Since then, over 17,000 others have died and there are now over 70,000 people living with HIV in the UK. Contrary to popular perceptions that the epidemic has gone away, more people than ever before were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2006. Groups most at risk of HIV in the UK continue to be gay men and the African community.

Source: Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

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