Factors Affecting Objective and Subjective AIDS Risk

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To see how objective and subjective AIDS risk are related to AIDS attitudes, 164 reportedly heterosexual undergraduates completed the AIDS Risk Knowledge Test, Prejudicial Evaluation Scale, Social Interaction Scale, a personal risk estimate, and a lifestyle checklist of AIDS-risk behaviors (for example, condom use). Respondents on the average knew a lot about AIDS risk, had few negative attitudes about AIDS, were moderately willing to interact with a person with AIDS, and had low objective and subjective risk of contracting AIDS. As negative attitudes decreased and respondents were more likely to be men, subjective risk increased. As respondents were more likely to be both men and older, objective risk increased Knowledge faded to account for significant variance in either subjective or objective risk. Those who underestimated their risk were older students with less willingness to interact with persons with AIDS. Those who overestimated their risk were younger students with more willingness to interact with persons with AIDS. Those with higher subjective risk are more realistically aware of their own personal danger in addition to having few negative attitudes about AIDS and the broad knowledge of AIDS risk found among all students. An implication is that despite widespread AIDS information, sexually active college students still engage in risk-taking behaviors.

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Journal of Social Behavior and Personality





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