AIDS - 25% US Blacks
Believe HIV Is
Manmade Genocide
NEW YORK - In a recent survey of African Americans, more than one-quarter said they believed that AIDS was caused by a man-made virus developed by the federal government to kill black people.
Anecdotal reports by healthcare workers have indicated that many African Americans suspect that AIDS is part of a federal government conspiracy, according to a report in the May issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.
In addition, reports in two prominent black publications and discussion on a popular black television program have suggested that HIV prevention programs are really part of a genocidal government plan against African Americans.
To investigate the extent of AIDS-related conspiracy beliefs, Dr. Elizabeth A. Klonoff of California State University, San Bernardino, and Dr. Hope Landrine of the Public Health Foundation asked 520 African American adults the following question: "HIV/AIDS is a man-made virus that the federal government made to kill and wipe out black people. How much do you agree with the above statement?"
While the majority of the respondents (50.8%) disagreed with this statement, 14.3% reported that they "totally agreed" and 12.2% reported that they "agreed somewhat." Another 23% reported that they were undecided.
The researchers conducted the census in middle- and working-class areas of San Bernardino County, California, and participants were paid $10 for filling out the anonymous survey.
Men were 3.5-times more likely to endorse an AIDS conspiracy theory compared with women, an unexpected finding. In particular, the researchers noted that respondents who were "culturally traditional male college graduates who have experienced frequent racial discrimination throughout their lives" were more likely to believe in an AIDS conspiracy theory. They also found that conspiracy beliefs were unrelated to income.
Klonoff and Landrine suggest further study, in part to determine if knowledge of the infamous Tuskegee study is playing a role in HIV conspiracy beliefs among the black population. In that study, conducted earlier this century, black men in the South were not told they had syphilis or treated for the disease so researchers could study the progress of the disease.
The authors conclude that "AIDS-conspiracy beliefs among blacks must be acknowledged and addressed in culturally tailored AIDS prevention and education programs."
"It is important to note that blacks who endorsed ... AIDS-conspiracy views did not differ in their degree of residential racial segregation, religiosity, or distrust of whites in general ... and so these issues may be less important in culturally tailoring programs than blacks' cultural ties and experiences with racism," Klonoff and Landrine conclude.