Conspiracy Beliefs About the Origin of HIV/AIDS in Four Racial/Ethnic Groups

Ross, Michael W. PhD,*; Essien, E. James MD, DrPH,†; Torres, Isabel DrPH*

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: March 2006 - Volume 41 - Issue 3 - pp 342-344
doi: 10.1097/01.qai.0000209897.59384.52
Epidemiology and Social Science: Brief Report

Abstract: We examined beliefs about the origin of HIV as a genocidal conspiracy in men and women of four racial/ethnic groups in a street intercept sample in Houston, Texas. Groups sampled were African American, Latino, non-Hispanic white, and Asian. Highest levels of conspiracy theories were found in women, and in African American and Latino populations (over a quarter of African Americans and over a fifth of Latinos) with slightly lower rates in whites (a fifth) and Asians (less than one in ten). Reductions in condom use associated with such beliefs were however only apparent in African American men. Conspiracy beliefs were an independent predictor of reported condom use along with race/ethnicity, gender, education, and age group. Data suggest that genocidal conspiracy beliefs are relatively widespread in several racial/ethnic groups and that an understanding of the sources of these beliefs is important to determine their possible impact on HIV prevention and treatment behaviors.

From the *WHO Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, University of Texas, and †The HIV Prevention Research Group, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Houston, TX.

Received for publication September 7, 2005; accepted December 15, 2005.

Reprints: Dr Michael W. Ross, WHO Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, School of Public Health, University of Texas, PO Box 20036, Houston TX 77225 (e-mail: Michael.W.Ross@uth.tmc.edu).

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.