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CDC: HIV-positive gay men are reducing transmission risks (13893)

13893Health News2004-10-02

CDC: HIV-positive gay men are reducing transmission risks

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday suggest that most HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are taking steps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their sex partners, including abstaining from sex and limiting their number of sex partners. A survey of more than 1,900 gay and bisexual men showed that 31% abstained from sex in the previous 12 months. Of those who were sexually active, 35% reported having only one sex partner during the previous year. More gay men also reported having had only oral sex at their last sexual encounter, which has a significantly lower risk of HIV transmission than anal sex. The men also reported being 3.5 times more likely to use condoms when having sex with HIV-negative men than with other HIV-positive men, and were significantly less likely to have insertive anal sex with HIV-negative partners than with partners known to already be HIV-positive.

However, about 14% of the men did not use a condom the last time they had insertive anal intercourse with an uninfected partner. Twenty-five percent did not use a condom the last time they had sex with a person of unknown HIV serostatus.

CDC officials say the survey's findings underscore the need to help HIV-positive people develop and maintain practices that protect their sex partners from infection. The federal agency recently shifted its HIV prevention focus away from traditional programs aimed at keeping HIV-negative people from becoming infected to so-called "prevention for positives" programs urging HIV-positive people to avoid behaviors that could result in HIV transmission.

The data were collected through the CDC's Supplemental HIV and AIDS Surveillance Project, a 16-site study including adults recently discovered to be HIV-positive. The 1,923 HIV-positive men included in the current study were interviewed between May 2000 and December 2002. The study's findings can be seen in the October 1 online edition of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report at

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