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Majority of public wrongly believe AIDS drug "cocktail" eliminates disease
Three-fifths of the public mistakenly believe that the protease inhibitor "cocktail" of drugs for HIV carriers and AIDS patients is effective like a "morning after" contraceptive pill. This was disclosed by a survey conducted for Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to mark World AIDS day on December 1 and the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the virus.
A representative sample of 500 Jewish adults surveyed by the Shiluv Institute found that the majority of those queried thought the drugs could prevent the immune-deficiency disease from appearing in the body. "This is not a cocktail you take while enjoying yourself in a pub," said Dr. Dan Turner, head of the hospital's AIDS center. "The cocktail doesn't prevent the disease from appearing . It is not an insurance policy even if it is taken after exposure," said Turner. The drugs reduce the viral load in the body but do not destroy HIV, and, like antibiotics, they tend to lose their effectiveness because the virus becomes resistant.
The survey also found that a third of the public would change their views of a close friend or relative if he knew he was infected with HIV. Almost a quarter would distance themselves from him, and 9% more would cut all ties with him. "this is a surprising finding," said Turner, "because HIV is transmitted only by unprotected sex or by contact with blood. One can't be infected with HIV with a kiss, hug, use of the same toilet or drinking from the same glass. This shows that the public still distance themselves from the disease and don't have enough information about it."
The survey results are "not encouraging and express superstition and irrationality," said Dr. Zohar Mor, a public health physician who conducted a similar study among homosexuals. "They show that there is difficulty in explaining how to prevent AIDS and adopt responsible sexual behavior."
AIDS is viewed by the general public as the second most frightening disease - after cancer - among a list of diseases. Forty-three percent are most afraid of cancer, followed by 20% AIDS.