Forty-four percent of Idahoans believe acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, can be transmitted when donating blood, according to results of a state telephone survey.

"That's terrible," said Dr. Russell Centanni, an Idaho AIDS Foundation board member. "That's a failure to accept the educational information. They hear it, but they don't listen to it."There is no documented case of anyone contracting AIDS through donating blood, said Dr. Charles Brokopp, state epidemiologist for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. But it can be contracted through blood transfusions or intravenous drug use.

The 1987 survey of 1,799 Idahoans used questions developed by Idaho Health and Welfare, in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Health and Welfare is surveying an additional 200 people each month in 1988. However, the department has not made those results public.

The survey consisted of four questions measuring Idahoans' attitudes, knowledge and behavior.

Respondents' telephone numbers were randomly selected by geographic area. A margin of error was not calculated.

Blood donations are safe. Needles are used once and then thrown away, said Fleurette Rita, consultant for the Boise chapter of the Red Cross. They do not come into contact with the blood of other people.

Blood donations to the Boise chapter are down slightly, she said.

Intravenous drug users are at risk of catching AIDS because their needles may be used and reused by other drug abusers with the disease.

Most respondents had the right ideas about the major modes of AIDS transmission.

Ninety-three percent of respondents knew the disease is transmitted through homosexual or bisexual sex. Most also knew AIDS can be transmitted through heterosexual sex, intravenous drug use, blood transfusions and birth.

However, Brokopp was dismayed that 25 percent said people could get AIDS from mosquito bites and 38 percent were unsure one way or the other. The truth is, Brokopp said, mosquitoes do not transmit AIDS.

Some 49 percent knew AIDS is not passed along through tears, and 61 percent knew it cannot be transmitted through kisses. Both do not contain high-enough concentrations of the virus to transmit the disease.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they would worry about an AIDS-infected youngster passing the virus on to their children at school.

"That worries me. What that says is they're not educating themselves," Centanni said.

Despite their fears, only 9 percent said they would fight to have a child with AIDS removed from school.

The last question was about precautions taken to avoid getting AIDS. Thirty-six percent of the survey respondents said they would avoid "certain places where homosexuals may be present."