Public Awareness of AIDS in the Federal Republic of Germany 2005
Knowledge, attitudes and behaviour relating to protection against AIDS
A repeat survey by the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), Cologne
Since the mid-1980s, the AIDS education campaign of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) has been informing the population of the Federal Republic of Germany about the disease AIDS and the associated infection risks. In particular, it provides education regarding the fact that people should protect themselves against infection with HIV, and ways of doing so.
The impact of this AIDS prevention campaign on knowledge, attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, and protective behaviour has been studied by the BZgA since 1987 by means of the long-term study entitled "Public Awareness of AIDS", which comprises annual, nationwide surveys conducted among the general population over the age of 16 in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The questions asked in these representative surveys are geared to the tasks and goals of AIDS prevention. Thus, the following are examined in detail:
- The extent to which the campaign´s various education measures reach the public,
- Whether the level of knowledge necessary for AIDS prevention continues to be maintained,
- The extent to which people protect themselves against sexual transmission of the virus by using condoms, especially those people who are of particular importance in the context of AIDS prevention, such as 16 to 44 year-old singles,
- Whether people with HIV and AIDS are isolated in the attitudes of the public, or rather regarded as people needing attention and help.
This Report contains the results of the latest repeat survey, conducted at the end of 2005. It presents the indicators for the study goals as medium or long-term trends, partly for the general population and partly for younger population subgroups of particular importance for AIDS prevention.
Chapter 2 of the Report compiles results relating to the public climate regarding AIDS in the Federal Republic of Germany, these providing important background information for AIDS prevention. The first questions examined are the extent to which the subject of AIDS iscurrently present in the public´s awareness, the extent to which the disease AIDS is perceived as a threat, and whether there is still an interest in AIDS education and other information on the subject of AIDS. How people with HIV and AIDS are viewed, and whether attitudes towards them have changed, is dealt with in Chapter 3.
An important evaluation task of this study is to collect data on the utilisation of AIDS education media, and to observe whether the system of AIDS education, with its different, coordinated information offerings, remains constant or changes. Consequently, Chapter 4 compiles the current reach data for the key AIDS education media, such as the "mach´s mit" ("join in") posters, the various forms of audiovisual AIDS education spots, brochures, information events, AIDS education in school, telephone AIDS counselling and use of the Internet as a source of information on AIDS. The question of whether this media offering has been successful in continuing to maintain the level of knowledge necessary for AIDS prevention, is answered in Chapter 5.
The next section presents the results regarding protection against infection with HIV during sexual contacts. As background information in this context, Chapter 6 contains time-series data on indicators for potentially risky sexual behaviour. The subject of Chapter 7 is attitudes towards protection against AIDS, particularly those of 16 to 44 year-old singles. One question examined is the willingness of people to protect themselves against an HIV infection by means of condoms (especially in the event of new sexual contacts); on the other hand, attitudes towards condoms as such are examined, e.g. regarding the safety or emotional acceptance of condoms.
Actual protective behaviour is dealt with in Chapter 8. It contains time-series data regarding the use of condoms in subgroups facing potentially greater risks, such as younger singles or people who had several sex partners in the past year, as well as results indicating trends in relation to protective behaviour in risky situations, such as in the event of new sexual contacts or sexual contacts with unknown partners on holiday. Chapter 9 presents data regarding utilisation of the HIV antibody test.
The next three chapters examine the effect of key factors influencing protective behaviour. For example, the Federal Centre for Health Education has been observing since 1997 whether the spread of knowledge relating to the availability and application of AIDS therapies affects protective behaviour. The latest results on this subject can be found in Chapter 10. Experience acquired in the context of the work of the specialist AIDS sections of the BZgA and its AIDS helpline indicates that various notions exist among the population that can lead to condoms not being used in the event of sexual contacts with previously unknown partners. The 2005 repeat survey examined the extent to which such notions are prevalent among the population, and whether they have an impact on protective behaviour. The corresponding results are presented in Chapter 11.
Chapter 12 once again addresses the topic of media utilisation. The results presented indicate the impact of contacts with several different media (of the multimedia AIDS education strategy) on attitudes towards protection against AIDS and on protective behaviour. Chapter 13 concludes the Report by presenting a summary of the most important results of the 2005 repeat survey of the "Public Awareness of AIDS" study.