The first large-scale survey in Scotland on awareness and attitudes to HIV was published at the Fast-Tracking Scotland Summit on 7th December. This report and data comes from a survey of 2,023 people in Scotland, with a nationally representative sample. We can therefore be confident that this data provides a robust "State of the Nation" analysis of attitudes. 

The key findings from the report show:


  • 98% of Scots rightly recognise sex without a condom as a transmission risk, but 46% of Scots think HIV can be transmitted through biting, spitting, or kissing someone. 7% of Scots think HIV is transmitted by sharing a glass, cup or cutlery.
  • 52% of Scots believe HIV is transmitted through a blood transfusion in the UK.
  • 42% of people think the statement “Women on HIV treatment cannot pass it on to their children” is false. Vertical transmission between women and their children has been eliminated in Scotland.
  • Only 17% of Scots believe there is a pill you can take that prevents HIV infection.
  • 88% agreed that someone taking HIV treatment can have a near-normal life expectancy, whilst only 19% thought someone living with HIV on treatment who has an undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV to their sexual partners was true.


  • Only 13% of Scots said they know someone living with HIV, either now or in the past.
  • 31% of Scots believe they are “not the type of person who can get infected with HIV", with only 8% concerned about the possibility of getting infected by HIV. 64% said they would know where to get advice and help if they were diagnosed.
  • 69% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that they would be comfortable if their GP offered them a HIV test.
  • Only 23% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that they would be comfortable starting a relationship with someone who is living with HIV, with 32% saying they would be comfortable going on a date with someone who is HIV positive. 27% would be comfortable kissing someone living with HIV.


  • Only 7% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that there was too much time, money or resources invested in HIV compared to other health problems such as heart disease or cancer.
  • 86% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that it is right that the Government spends public money on trying to prevent long term health conditions, like HIV.
  • 44% strongly agreed or tended to agree that Scotland is a broadly tolerant and welcoming place for those living with HIV.


  • 78% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that they would feel comfortable working with a colleague who had HIV.
  • 52% strongly agreed or tended to agree that people with HIV face discrimination at work.
  • 17% strongly agreed or tended to agree that their employer should tell them if one of their work colleagues was HIV positive.
  • Only 9% of Scots strongly agreed or tended to agree that People living with HIV shouldn’t be considered for certain positions.

At the launch event, Mark Diffley reflected on the difference in attitudes if someone knew someone living with HIV, or depending on age - with young people having poorer knowledge of HIV, but more progressive attitudes, whilst people in the 65+ age group had better knowledge but less progressive attitudes. 

The Report, and the data, have been produced by Mark Diffley on behalf of HIV Scotland, thanks to funding from Gilead Sciences. 

HIV Scotland has used the data to help shape communications, particularly the launch of the #GenerationZero campaign. We want the data to be open-access so that organisations and individuals across the sector can use it, further analyse it, compare it and in future revisit and measure progress.

Please get in touch with the team at HIV Scotland if you want to discuss the data, how to use it or future partnership working. 

Download the Report        Download the Tabular Data