Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 11 (June 1991), Pages 875-956

Determinants of Health‐Care Workers' Attitudes Toward People with AIDS (pages 947-956)

One hundred and thirty‐four health professionals read one of 12 fictional case histories in which the patient was diagnosed as being either HIV‐ or Hepatitis B‐positive. For each diagnosis infection was attributed to sexual contact. IV drug use, or a transfusion of contaminated blood. Within each diagnostic category, and for each source of infection, the patient was identified as either heterosexual or homosexual. Although homophobia has been suggested as a major contributor to negative attitudes toward people with AIDS, the present results remained significant even after homophobia, as measured by Hudson and Ricketts (1980), had been controlled for statistically. Regardless of disease, patients infected through IV drug use or sexual contact were seen as equally culpable and more responsible for their condition than those infected by transfusion. HIV, but not Hepatitis B, patients infected by sex or IV drug use were perceived as having less moral integrity than those infected by transfusion. Source of infection also influenced respondents' desire for close personal interaction. Negativity toward particular patient groups based merely on information about patient lifestyles was clearly demonstrated and it is suggested that negative attitudes toward people with AIDS may be a reflection of negative attitudes toward sexuality generally, rather than homosexuality.

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