Analysis of Risk Behavior Change Following HIV Diagnosis
July 7, 2000
A study in a recent issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examines the sexual practices of persons with newly diagnosed HIV infection.
From January 1997 through September 1998, researchers identified individuals in Alabama, New Jersey, and Tennessee who had recently acquired HIV infection as well as individuals who were between 13 and 24 years of age when diagnosed with HIV. Researchers then interviewed 180 of these eligible individuals.
Respondents were asked questions about their sexual behavior both before and after they learned of their HIV status. (Sexual behavior occurring before respondents learned of their HIV status was limited to events that occurred after 1977.)
ResultsReasons For Being Tested
When asked about the leading reasons for being tested:
The findings in this study suggest that a large proportion of young persons infected with HIV reduced their high-risk sexual behaviors and adopted safer sexual behaviors following diagnosis. For this reason, the authors suggest that HIV testing and counseling programs should encourage persons at high risk for HIV infection to seek knowledge of their status and facilitate referrals to ongoing care and prevention services for persons found to be infected.
The findings further show an increase in reported safer behaviors during the 6 months after HIV-related primary care is first sought. The authors note that persons who have not engaged in sexual intercourse since their diagnosis may become sexually active later and suggest that sustained interventions must be available for maintenance and adoption of safer behaviors.
Finally, the authors note that 84% of respondents reported receiving HIV-related medical care within one year of learning of their positive HIV status. They suggest that these encounters provide a good opportunity for behavioral risk-reduction counseling and intervention.
For more information: "Adoption of Protective Behaviors Among Persons With Recent HIV Infection and Diagnosis--Alabama, New Jersey, and Tennessee, 1997-1998," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 16, 2000, vol. 49, no. 23, pp. 512-15.
This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.