Percent of population who reject incorrect beliefs about HIV/AIDS
The percent of all respondents who correctly reject the two most common local misconceptions about AIDS transmission or prevention, and who know that a healthy-looking person can transmit AIDS.
In a series of prompted questions, the interviewer reads a series of correct and incorrect statements about AIDS transmission and prevention. Responses to the correct statements about prevention are used to calculate the previous indicator: Percent of population who know HIV prevention methods. Responses to a question about infection status in healthy-looking people and to two incorrect statements about transmission or prevention are used to calculate this indicator.
The incorrect statements will vary to reflect the misconceptions most common in the local context. Very often these misconceptions will include the belief that AIDS can be spread through an insect bite or through witchcraft. Sometimes, they will include beliefs about prevention or cure, such as AIDS being preventable by eating certain types of foods or herbs, or being curable by having sex with a certain type of person such as a virgin (or simply being curable at all). One question will always center on knowledge of the “healthy carrier” concept, that is, knowledge that a person may contract HIV by having unprotected sex with an apparently healthy person. The exact wording may vary locally. For example, in some areas “fat” may be synonymous with “healthy” in this context and may better reflect people‘s misunderstanding of who constitutes a “safe” partner.
Before conducting a survey, the evaluator should identify the local misconceptions. They may vary over time within the same country.
To enter the numerator for this indicator, a respondent must correctly reject both misconceptions, and must know that a healthy-looking person can transmit AIDS. The denominator is all respondents, including those who have not heard of AIDS. For program purposes, the indicator should be disaggregated by misconception, and the percentage believing that a healthy-looking person cannot transmit HIV should also be reported separately.
This indicator is calculated as:
(# of respondents who correctly reject the two most common local misconceptions about AIDS and who know that a healthy-looking person can transmit/ Total # of respondents) x 100
Self-reported data from survey respondents
UNAIDS general population survey; DHS AIDS module; FHI BSS (adult); FHI BSS (youth)
Many of the people who know that condoms protect against AIDS also believe that AIDS can be contracted from a mosquito bite or other uncontrollable event. Why bother to reduce the pleasure of sex, they reason, if they might in any case be infected by something as random as a mosquito bite? At high levels of HIV-related awareness, a reduction in misconceptions that act as a disincentive to behavior change may actually better reflect the success of a behavior change communication (BCC) campaign than will an incremental shift in already high levels of “correct” knowledge. This indicator measures progress made in reducing misconceptions.
Again, this indicator is easy to measure. It gives a good picture of the level of false beliefs that may impede people’s determination to act on correct knowledge. When the data are disaggregated, they provide invaluable information for program managers planning future BCC campaigns, telling them which misconceptions must be attacked, and in which sub-populations.
There is always a danger that including misconceptions in a questionnaire actually increases their credibility. Preparatory research should be sure to establish commonly held misconceptions (rather than run the risk of promoting new ones), and the questionnaire should make very clear that some of the statements in the sequence are true while others are false.
One limitation is the indicator‘s potential inability to distinguish between misconceptions which are likely to influence behavior and those which are merely incidental. Measurement of this indicator also requires preparatory work to determine which misconceptions are currently most likely to be common.
attitude, HIV/AIDS, knowledge