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Study shows most HIV-positive people don't put others at risk

Study shows most HIV-positive people don't put others at risk

A study in the August 15 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes shows that the vast majority of HIV-positive Americans do not put their sex partners at risk for HIV infection. Only about 15% of gay HIV-positive men, 19% of HIV-positive heterosexual women, and 13% of HIV-positive heterosexual men had unprotected anal or vaginal sex during the three months prior to being interviewed with an HIV-negative partner or a partner whose HIV status was unknown. Researchers asked a total of 3,721 HIV-positive adults from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Milwaukee about the sex they had with their partners during the prior three months. Three quarters of heterosexual men and women and 81% of gay men had been sexually active in the preceding three months. The mean number of sexual partners during this period was 5.8 for gay men and 1.7 for heterosexual men and women. Unprotected sex was common among all study participants. Nearly 45% of gay men said they had had anal sex without a condom, and 36.5% of women and 34% of heterosexual men reported having unprotected vaginal or anal sex. But most of the study participants were having unprotected sex only with partners also known to also be HIV-positive, what researchers call "serosorting." Only 15.6% of gay men, 19% of women, and 13.1% of heterosexual men reported unprotected sex with a partner of different or unknown HIV status. Using a mathematical model, the researchers calculated that the unprotected sex reported by the study subjects could have resulted in 30 new HIV infections. "These findings are heartening because they indicate that most persons aware of their own HIV infection refrain from sexual activities likely to transmit the virus to others," the investigators write.

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