Medical students and AIDS: knowledge, attitudes and implications for education

Health Educ Res. 1999 Feb;14(1):1-6. doi: 10.1093/her/14.1.1.


Second year medical students at a large midwestern university were surveyed about their attitudes regarding AIDS. Results indicated: (1) students with homosexual and/or HIV-positive friends were significantly more tolerant toward AIDS patients, (2) over half the students believed that treating AIDS patients may be hazardous and that their education had not prepared them to treat these patients safely, (3) one-third believed they had the right to refuse to treat AIDS patients, and (4) AIDS-phobia was significantly associated with homophobia. These data suggest that medical educators may need to help students overcome AIDS-phobia before some students will be able to incorporate instruction about AIDS since AIDS-phobia may inhibit this learning. Didactic instruction must be coupled with modeling by educators of non-prejudicial attitudes and strict adherence to medical professionalism.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Prejudice
  • Students, Medical / psychology*