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The number of people suffering from conditions associated with HIV infection is growing steadily These people require care from nurses who should be well trained to undertake all the various aspects of nursing care Surveys have indicated that health professionals associate AIDS with minority groups such as homosexuals, drug-abusers and prostitutes Incidents of sub-optimal nursing care of AIDS patients, or suspected AIDS patients belonging to these minority groups, have been well documented Surveys have revealed much ignorance and confusion among the general public as well as among health professionals with regard to this controversial syndrome This study aimed to measure nurses’ knowledge and attitudes towards homosexuals, drug-abusers and prostitutes, who through their lifestyle are at increased risk for HIV infection Questionnaires were distributed to a random sample of 800 nurses in Northern Ireland The sample was stratified by several demographic variables A response rate of almost 60% was achieved Nurses appeared to have a moderate knowledge of issues related to HIV infection, but there were large gaps in their knowledge of the terminology used in HIV infection Nurses were not extremely worried about AIDS itself However, homosexuals, prostitutes and drug-abusers were seen to be at least partly responsible for their own illness. Implications for nursing care and for nurse education are discussed