A variety of demographic, psychosocial, intrapersonal and behavioural factors have been shown to influence behavioural change in response to AIDS education. The study investigated perceived risk of HIV acquisition amongst 50 male heterosexual STD clinic attenders and its relationship to knowledge regarding the nature and prevention of transmission of HIV, current sexual practices, relationship difficulties, sexual dysfunction, alcohol abuse and psychiatric morbidity.
The sample demonstrated a good general knowledge about AIDS but there was little evidence of the practice of ‘safer sex’. The overall incidence of psychiatric morbidity was 38%, of problem drinking 52%, of sexual dysfunction 32% and marital/relationship dysfunction 42%. Only 22% felt that their life-style put them at risk of HIV acquisition. It was felt that a narrow emphasis on information in AIDS prevention programmes ignores the powerful effect other factors may have on an individual's motivation to change his behaviour. Evaluation of the cognitions of this at risk group with particular reference to the role of cognitive distortions in perception of risk could provide a means of enhancing the efficacy of future health education campaigns.