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   2008, Vol. 40 Issue (01) : 54-63     DOI:
Differential Reactions toward People with AIDS (PWA) in China
CAI Hua-Jian;WU Qiu-Ping;DENG Ci-Ping
Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
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Abstract  Since its first disclosure in China in 1985, AIDS has been spreading rapidly. Chinese government has done a lot in AIDS prevention and control. Currently, prejudice and discrimination toward PWA is the greatest barrier for AIDS prevention and treatment in China. Undoubtedly, knowing more about people’s reactions and attitudes toward PWA would contribute to AIDS prevention and control. The present study for the first time examined people’s differential reactions toward PWA who contracted AIDS via different routes, including controllable ones (i.e. sex and drug uses) and uncontrollable ones (i.e., blood transfusion and mother-fetus). We also examined the mediating role of affective reactions in producing negative attitudes toward PWA.
The sample was composed of 188 college students (males: 73; Females: 115). Each of the participants was paid 10 Chinese Yuan for their participation. Four scenarios about a young man who has been recently diagnosed as an AIDS patient were designed and used to elicit participants’ reactions toward PWA. All scenarios were identical except for the routes of AIDS contraction. Specifically, the routes included inappropriate sex behaviors, drug uses, transfusion, and mother-fetus. Participants completed the experiment on computer in separate rooms. After providing their demographical information, they were randomly assigned to one of the four scenarios. After reading the scenarios, they finished a series of scales about the PWA described in the scenarios. The scales measure affective feelings (e. g., angry, disgust, fear, and sympathy) and attitudes toward the described PWA (e. g., thermometer feeling scale, perceived responsibility, support of coercive policies, and intent to contact).
Results showed that (1) on one hand, all subjects showed pronounced negative affective feelings toward PWA regardless of the contracting routes, suggesting apparent instrumental fear of AIDS; on the other hand, strong sympathy was also found among college students; (2) by comparing with those who has contracted AIDS by controllable routes such as inappropriate sexual behaviors and drug uses, college students expressed less angry, less disgust, and less fear toward PWA contracted via transfusion and mother-fetus; they were also less likely to support coercive policies upon them, to have contacts with them, and to attribute the responsibility of contracting AIDS to them; (3) no gender differences were found except that females showed less willingness to contact with PWA; and (4) mediation analyses revealed that affective feelings toward PWA partially mediated the effects of transmission routes on attitudes toward PWA, angry, disgust, and fear increasing negative attitude whereas sympathy increasing positive one.
In summary, the present study demonstrated that (1) both instrumental and symbolic concerns contribute to negative attitude; (2) different transmission routes would lead to different reactions; (3) affective reactions partially mediated the differential reactions toward PWA. The findings suggest possible effective ways to control and prevent the AIDS epidemic in China, which are to eliminate inappropriate sexual behaviors and drug uses and to reduce fear of AIDS by disseminating AIDS related knowledge and arousing people’s sympathy for PWA.
Keywords AIDS      people with AIDS (PWA)      attitude      fear      sympathy      China     
:  B849:R395  
Corresponding Authors: CAI Hua-Jian   
Issue Date: 30 January 2008
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CAI Hua-Jian,WU Qiu-Ping,DENG Ci-Ping. Differential Reactions toward People with AIDS (PWA) in China[J]. ,2008, 40(01): 54-63.
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