Interventions to Prevent HIV Risk Behaviors
Consensus Development Statement
February 11-13, 1997
To provide health care providers, patients, and the general public with a responsible assessment of behavioral intervention methods that may reduce the risk of HIV infection.
A non-Federal, nonadvocate, 12-member panel representing the fields of psychiatry, psychology, behavioral and social science, social work, and epidemiology. In addition, 15 experts in psychiatry, psychology, behavioral and social science, social work, and epidemiology presented data to the panel and a conference audience of 1,000.
The literature was searched through Medline and an extensive bibliography of references was provided to the panel and the conference audience. Experts prepared abstracts with relevant citations from the literature. Scientific evidence was given precedence over clinical anecdotal experience.
The panel, answering predefined questions, developed its conclusions based on the scientific evidence presented in open forum and the scientific literature. The panel composed a draft statement that was read in its entirety and circulated to the experts and the audience for comment. Thereafter, the panel resolved conflicting recommendations and released a revised statement at the end of the conference. The panel finalized the revisions within a few weeks after the conference.
Behavioral interventions to reduce risk for HIV/AIDS are effective and should be disseminated widely. Legislative restriction on needle exchange programs must be lifted because such legislation constitutes a major barrier to realizing the potential of a powerful approach and exposes millions of people to unnecessary risk. Legislative barriers that discourage effective programs aimed at youth must be eliminated. Although sexual abstinence is a desirable objective, programs must include instruction on safer sex behaviors. The erosion of funding for drug abuse treatment programs must be halted because research data clearly show that such programs reduce risky drug abuse behavior and often eliminate drug abuse itself. Finally, new research must focus on emerging risk groups such as young people, particularly those who are gay and who are members of ethnic minority groups, and women, in whom transmission of HIV virus to their children remains a major public health problem.
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