Behavioral Therapy Can Reduce Risk of HIV Transmission, Study Says
March 23, 2007
People living with HIV/AIDS who participate in a psychotherapy program can significantly reduce their risk of transmitting the disease to others, according to a study conducted by the Healthy Living Project and published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Reuters Health reports. For the study, Stephen Morin of the University of California-San Francisco and colleagues assigned 936 HIV-positive people at risk of transmitting the virus to others to participate in either "cognitive-behavioral" therapy -- a type of counseling that focuses on the role that thinking plays in feelings and behaviors -- or no intervention. The therapy consisted of 15 90-minute sessions that covered three components, Reuters Health reports. The first module consisted of stress, coping and adjustment behaviors; the second involved teaching safer behaviors; and the third was a program of healthy behaviors. Follow-up assessments were conducted at five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 months to see if the intervention reduced the participants' risk of transmitting HIV, which the researchers defined as the "number of unprotected sexual risk acts with persons of HIV-negative or unknown status." The study found that the risk of transmitting HIV was 36% lower in the intervention group compared with the nonintervention group at the 20-month assessment. According to the researchers, the reduction in transmission risk was not seen at the 25-month interval. However, "even small behavior changes among infected individuals can have a significant effect on the epidemic," which suggests that behavior intervention used in the study "can be effective in reducing the number of new" HIV cases, the researchers said (Reuters Health, 3/21).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.