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An analysis of 11 previous HIV-related studies shows that HIV-positive men and women who are tested and aware of their infections are far less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than their infected peers who have not yet been diagnosed. The analysis, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, examined studies chronicling the sexual behavior of both men and women who knew they were HIV-positive and those who were shown through genetic tests to have been carrying the virus for many months or longer but had not yet been diagnosed as HIV-positive.
The analysis shows that men and women aware that they are infected have a 53% lower incidence of unprotected vaginal or anal sex with any partner, and 68% lower incidence with an HIV-negative partner or a partner of unknown HIV serostatus, than incidence levels reported by men and women who were not yet aware they were HIV-positive. The researchers say their findings highlight the importance of encouraging sexually active adults to be screened regularly for HIV infection because awareness that one is infected greatly reduces risky sexual behavior and significantly lowers the chances that the virus will be passed to others through unprotected sex.