Conspiracy Beliefs About HIV/AIDS and Birth Control Among African Americans: Implications for the Prevention of HIV, Other STIs, and Unintended Pregnancy

Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, 264 Waldo Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6406, USA.
Journal of Social Issues (Impact Factor: 1.96). 04/2005; 61(1):109-26. DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-4537.2005.00396.x
Source: PubMed


In this article, we examine the potential role that conspiracy beliefs regarding HIV/AIDS (e.g., "HIV is a manmade virus") and birth control (e.g., "The government is trying to limit the Black population by encouraging the use of condoms") play in the prevention of HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancies among African Americans in the United States. First, we review prior research indicating that substantial percentages of African Americans endorse conspiracy beliefs about HIV/AIDS and birth control. Next, we present a theoretical framework that suggests how conspiracy beliefs influence sexual behavior and attitudes. We then offer several recommendations for future research. Finally, we discuss the policy and programmatic implications of conspiracy beliefs for the prevention of HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancy.

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    • "Conspiracy theories explaining diseases as man-made are widespread in the public. US surveys show that significant proportions of African Americans adhere to conspiracy theories regarding the causes of AIDS and that belief in conspiracy theories is associated with decreased condom use and other preventive practices (Bird & Bogart, 2005). Conspiracy beliefs about related topics such as childhood vaccines are propagated on so many websites that it is often difficult to find valid, evidence-based information (Bean, 2011; Betsch et al., 2012; Davies, Chapman, & Leask, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: This editorial discusses the problem of eroding public trust in public health organizations concerning the risk posed by emerging infectious diseases. Recent years have seen several worldwide scares related to these so-called emerging infectious diseases. Examples include the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002–2003 and, most recently, the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in 2009. Perhaps an important first step for public health scientists and professionals would be to abandon naïve images of "the public" and how it processes risk-related information. In the context of disease outbreaks, the public constructs images about the various sources of healthcare information and advice. Unfortunately, evidence-based public health messages and the array of allied institutions that propagate them are not self-evidently trustworthy in the public eye. It is time to recognize this. It then becomes important to understand processes related to the emergence of trust and distrust in the public, especially since this constitutes an important predictor of health behavior. The articles in the special section on pandemics in the present issue of European Psychologist constitute initial steps in these directions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · European Psychologist
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    • "Personal experience may be particularly likely to trump conventional health education on contraception for this population of young adults (see also Ref. [17]). These participants were all from ethnic and racial minority populations among whom distrust of the medical establishment, particularly related to reproductive health issues, has been documented [8] [29]. Overreliance on personal experiences has limitations and is of additional concern when those stories place all responsibility for failure on the method, rather than shared by the user as well. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes contraceptive understanding, sources of information and consequences of contraceptive misunderstandings among urban, young adults. We used qualitative data from 16 focus groups and 53 interviews with Puerto Rican and African American men and women aged 18-25 years from Philadelphia and Hartford. We categorized and compared assertions made about all contraceptive methods' side effects, effectiveness and use using an iterative process. Participants considered contraceptive use worthwhile but felt that it carried risks of problematic side effects and contraceptive failure, with variation among methods. Men knew most about condoms and withdrawal and trusted both more than women. Personal or second-hand experience was the dominant source of information on contraceptive understanding. Misunderstandings about contraception affected their relationships and risk of unintended pregnancy. Contraceptive understanding is a powerful determinant of contraceptive use and limits the options perceived by young adults to prevent pregnancy. Research is needed to strengthen contraceptive counseling and outreach in ways that better leverage peer influence.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Contraception
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    • "Considering the ongoing and historical mistreatment of African Americans by the health care system, it is understandable that young African Americans may accept conspiracy theories relating to HIV=AIDS as being true (Bird & Bogart, 2005). Because of high levels of mistrust in African American communities regarding messages advanced by the U.S. government, individuals living in those communities should deliver prevention messages, as opposed to unknown outsiders who are representative of the larger public health system (Bird & Bogart, 2005). In this present study, an African American identified as a local community physician and an African American identified as a local minister delivered the prevention messages. "
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    ABSTRACT: Using experimental methodology, this study tests the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention messages tailored specifically to college-aged African Americans. To test interaction effects, it intersects source role and evidence format. The authors used gain-framed and loss-framed information specific to young African Americans and HIV to test message effectiveness between statistical and emotional evidence formats, and for the first time, a statistical/emotional combination format. It tests which source--physician or minister--that young African Americans believe is more effective when delivering HIV/AIDS messages to young African Americans. By testing the interaction between source credibility and evidence format, this research expands knowledge on creating effective health messages in several major areas. Findings include a significant interaction between the role of physician and the combined statistical/emotional format. This message was rated as the most effective way to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention messages.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Journal of Health Communication
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