Public awareness of AIDS in Rwanda

Douglas A. Feldman, Samuel R. Friedman, Don C. Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIDS is a rapidly growing epidemic in Kigali, Rwanda. To understand the level of public awareness of AIDS in that city, 33 informants (15 men and 18 women) were interviewed during September, 1985. Most (66.7%) said that they first heard of the disease only within the previous eight months. About half (46.9%) could not mention one or more AIDS symptoms. Younger informants and women reported less knowledge of AIDS symptoms. While nearly everyone recognized AIDS as a stigmatized disease, most informants apparently did not know why it is stigmatized. Only about one-third of the informants (34.4%) could correctly state the mode of AIDS transmission. People who are at greatest risk for the disease, unmarried men and women, were least likely to know how it is transmitted. Half (50.0%) of those informants who responded to the question of the origins of AIDS said that it began in 'America.' While many informants are frightened by the disease, no one has yet changed their sexual behavior as a response to the epidemic. All informants agreed that more information about AIDS should be made available in Rwanda. Preventive measures against the spread of AIDS are urgently needed in central Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-100
Number of pages4
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987


  • AIDS
  • Rwanda
  • public awareness
  • social stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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