One month after Magic Johnson announced that he had tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), 103 junior high school students were surveyed about the impact of his announcement on their desire to learn about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), their worries about vulnerability to HIV infection, and their anxiety about interacting with a person with AIDS (PWA). Students also were administered established AIDS-related scales of knowledge, vulnerability worries, and social anxiety. Their scores on these scales were compared to the scores of different students from the same school sampled at three previous times. As expected, 58% of the students reported a desire to know more about AIDS, and 40% reported increased worries about vulnerability to HIV infection because of Magic Johnson's announcement. Contrary to expectations, 21% reacted with a report of increased anxiety about interacting with a PWA, whereas 12% reported less anxiety. Also contrary to expectations, when compared with the pre-announcement groups, the post-announcement students had lower scores on the vulnerability worry scale, indicating less worry about personal vulnerability to HIV infection. Results are discussed in terms of the possible influences of social desirability bias and perceptions of personal risk.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- History and Philosophy of Science