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Survey: Many in
Europe confused about AIDS

Survey: Many in
Europe confused about AIDS

Almost half of the European Union population continues to have misconceptions about the ways in which HIV/AIDS can be spread, the European Commission in Brussels said Monday. A survey by the EU executive found that although many know that sharing needles, receiving infected blood, and having unprotected sex were the three most prominent ways to get infected, 45% also believed donating blood, sharing glasses, and sitting on a toilet seat could spread the disease. Only 40% knew the virus could not be passed by kissing on the mouth. ''We must not lose sight of the fact that HIV/AIDS is still one of the biggest preventable killers worldwide,'' said health commissioner Markos Kyprianou. ''I am most worried about the decreasing attention for prevention.'' Particular concern centers on the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004. ''More needs to be done--in particular, to inform the citizens of new EU-member states, where the epidemic is still strong and which border the countries where the epidemic is on the rise,'' Kyprianou said. Those tending to have the highest knowledge of the disease were urban young people, but despite their high level of awareness, the report found them taking fewer precautions compared with their behavior four years ago. ''We have to promote education, the use of sterile needles and syringes, and especially safer sex as complacency leads in particular the young to underestimate the potential risk,'' said Kyprianou. The survey was conducted September 2-October 6, 2005, and November 5-December 7, 2005, featuring interviews with more than 24,000 EU residents ages 15 and up. The margin of error was between 1.9 and 3.1 percentage points. (AP)

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