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Are HIV/AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs a Barrier to HIV Prevention Among African Americans?

Bogart, Laura M PhD*; Thorburn, Sheryl PhD, MPH

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: February 1st, 2005 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 213-218
Epidemiology and Social Science

Objectives: This study examined endorsement of HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs and their relations to consistent condom use and condom attitudes among African Americans.

Methods: We conducted a telephone survey with a random sample of 500 African Americans aged 15 to 44 years and living in the contiguous United States.

Results: A significant proportion of respondents endorsed HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs. Among men, stronger conspiracy beliefs were significantly associated with more negative condom attitudes and inconsistent condom use independent of selected sociode-mographic characteristics, partner variables, sexually transmitted disease history, perceived risk, and psychosocial factors. In secondary follow-up analyses, men's attitudes about condom use partially mediated the effects of HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs on condom use behavior.

Conclusions: HIV/AIDS conspiracy beliefs are a barrier to HIV prevention among African Americans and may represent a facet of negative attitudes about condoms among black men. To counter such beliefs, government and public health entities need to work toward obtaining the trust of black communities by addressing current discrimination within the health care system as well as by acknowledging the origin of conspiracy beliefs in the context of historical discrimination.

From the *Health Program, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; and †Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Received for publication February 4, 2004; accepted July 7, 2004.

Supported by grant 5 R01 HD42397 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to Sheryl Thorburn, whose former name was Sheryl Thorburn Bird.

Reprints: Laura M. Bogart, Health Program, RAND Corporation, PO Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138 (e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.