NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 31, 2005

Significant numbers of African Americans believe in conspiracy theories about AIDS, and black men with such beliefs are less likely to use condoms as a precaution against spreading the HIV virus, according to a study by the RAND Corporation and Oregon State University.

Researchers conducted a national telephone survey of a scientifically selected random sample of 500 African Americans ages 15 to 44 from around the United States. Those surveyed were asked a series of questions about specific HIV/AIDS myths. The survey of African Americans found that:

  • About 59 percent agreed with the statement that "a lot of information about AIDS is being held back from the public."
  • Some 53 percent agreed that "there is a cure for AIDS, but it is being withheld from the poor."
  • Nearly 27 percent agreed that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory."
  • About 16 percent agreed that AIDS was created by the government to control the black population.
  • About 15 percent agreed that AIDS is a form of genocide against African Americans.

Although 75 percent said they believe medical and public health agencies are trying to stop the spread of AIDS in black communities, the prevention community sees the study as a wake-up call.

"The whole notion of conspiracy theories and misinformation removes personal responsibility," says Phil Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.

Source: Darryl Fears, "Many blacks see AIDS conspiracy, survey says," Washington Post, January 26, 2005; based upon: Laura M. Bogart and Sheryl Thorburn, "Are HIV/AIDS Conspiracy Beliefs a Barrier to HIV Prevention Among African Americans?" Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, February 1, 2005.

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