The Influence of Homophobia in HIV/AIDS Education

Andrew S Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


HIV/AIDS education programs have been integrated into many school and university curricula. The primary focus of these programs is to increase knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Increases in HIV/AIDS knowledge scores have been reported in various studies but do not reliably lead to behavior change. Attitudes about homosexuality are frequently not discussed in HIV/AIDS programming. Two studies were conducted to investigate the role of homophobia on HIV/AIDS knowledge and empathy for HIV+ persons. In the first study, subjects completed two scales which were subsequently revised to increase internal psychometric properties. In the second study, subjects were assigned to one of eight experimental conditions. Subjects read either a vignette describing the method of transmission by which a character became HIV+ or an intensely negative commentary on homosexuality, and completed various measures. Results indicated that self-reported homophobia was related to decreased knowledge about HIV/AIDS and less empathy for persons with HIV. Subjects who reported having at least one gay-identified friend reported more knowledge about AIDS and empathy for HIV+ persons, and less homophobia. Results are discussed in terms of educational strategies for including discussions of homosexuality in HIV/AIDS programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-38
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Psychology and Human Sexuality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 12 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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