More than 6,000 people in six Chinese cities were interviewed for the research -- supported by UNAIDS -- which also found that there was still serious stigmatisation of people living with HIV in China.
Beijing's Renmin University conducted the survey.
Less than a fifth of respondents said they would use a condom if they had sex with a new partner, and more than 63 percent would be unwilling to accept services like hairdressing from an HIV-infected person.
More than 48 percent thought they could contract HIV from a mosquito bite, and over 41 percent would be unwilling to work with a person infected with HIV.
China has about 700,000 HIV/AIDS carriers, with an estimated 50,000 people infected in 2007, according to UNAIDS.
But campaigners have warned the figure could be up to 10 times higher since many HIV cases go unreported and testing is not widespread.
The Chinese government has in recent years stepped up its AIDS awareness campaign.
In February authorities launched their first anti-AIDS programme focused on gay men.
However, one of the nation's most prominent AIDS campaigners, Hu Jia, is in prison for incitement to subvert state power.