Social distance mediates the association between fear of infection and better-off-dead beliefs about people living with HIV

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationJournal of International Medical Research
Online published18 Dec 2019
Publication statusOnline published - 18 Dec 2019


Objectives : The better-off-dead belief, the idea that death is preferable for people living with human immunodeficiency virus, is a highly devaluing attitude, but little is known about its determinants among the general population. Guided by the instrumental model of stigma, this study examined the contributive roles of fear of infection and social distance to this stigmatizing belief.

Methods : A total of 304 Chinese university students recruited in Guangzhou and Hong Kong responded to questionnaires assessing the better-off-dead belief, fear of infection and social distance. Structural equation modelling was used to test associations among the variables.
Results : Fear of infection and social distance were associated with higher levels of the better-off-dead belief. Social distance mediated the association between fear of infection and the better-off-dead belief.
Conclusions : Fear of infection and social distance are determinants of the better-off-dead belief, with social distance serving as a mediator. This study highlights the importance of addressing fear and avoidance in future public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of the better-off-dead belief.

Research Area(s)

  • Better-off-dead belief, fear of infection, HIV, social distance, stigma, China, structural equation modelling, HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC, UNITED-STATES, SAMPLE-SIZE, STIGMA, CHINA, AIDS, ATTITUDES, DISCRIMINATION, KNOWLEDGE, CONTACT