Misperceptions about HIV transmission among heterosexual African-American and Latino men and women

E. James Essien, Angela F. Meshack, Michael W. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This research was conducted to identify myths and misperceptions about HIV/AIDS and barriers to risk reduction among heterosexual African-American and Latino-American men and women in Houston, Texas. Sixty four Latino-American and 69 African-American men and women, aged 13 to 59 years, participated in 10 and 11 focus groups, respectively. Each group was audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using theme and domain analysis. The data confirmed the existence of myths and misperceptions among both groups about HIV/AIDS, specifically that HIV is an agent of genocide, suspicion of government information, belief that one can identify risky partners by odor and appearance, that partners' reported histories are accurate, significant misperceptions as to the meaning of "safe sex" (particularly in women), and belief that specific classes of people (not including oneself) are at risk for HIV. These data strongly suggest that concentration on narrow targeting of misinformation common in particular minority populations is important in the development of HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-312
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2002


  • AIDS
  • African Americans
  • HIV
  • Latino Americans
  • Misperceptions


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