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Okinawa students fear contact with HIV/AIDS

Date Posted: 2007-01-08

Although few have ever had contact with a HIV-positive person, or one with AIDS, nearly all university students polled in Okinawa say they’re afraid of such a contact.

Meio University’s Professor Kimura says he found 83% of students surveyed are afraid of AIDS, despite the fact only six percent say they “have ever met an AIDS patient directly.” Students overwhelmingly say prejudice and discrimination exist for AIDS patients, with 98% calling the situation “not good”. Some 45% of the students said they “can do nothing for AIDS patients” and avoid contact.

A total of 515 Meio University sophomores were surveyed in mid-December by Kimura, who’s researching health problems using psychology, and Fukada Hiromi, a Professor at Hiroshima University.

Asked about personal sexual activity, 79% of the students said “Yes, I have had sex,” while 21% said no. More than 96% of the students said they knew about using condoms for preventing spread of AIDS, but only 77% admitted actually using condoms during sex.

There are 56 reported cases of HIV infection on Okinawa, with another 39 AIDS patients listed in Prefecture records. Officials say the number of cases in the prefecture is increasing each year, and note Okinawa has the highest number of AIDS patients in the Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa areas.

Kimura says research indicates much more needs tro be done to enlighten students about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. “There aren’t enough lectures or enlightening and effective chances to learn from patients,” Kimura says. The professor underscores the point that “educated, informed people who take appropriate measures are extremely unlikely to become infected.”

He emphasized that knowledge and action, including condoms use, will change the infection percentages dramatically.

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