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Most with HIV infection refrain from high-risk behavior
  By Megan Rauscher
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of large ethnically and geographically diverse U.S. sample of men and women living with HIV infection show that the majority of them refrain from sexual activities likely to transmit the virus to others who are not infected.
Dr. Lance S. Weinhardt from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee said this study provides "very good news for those working with people with HIV, the patients themselves, and for public health in the U.S. in general."
He and colleagues surveyed a total of 3723 HIV-infected persons living in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City or San Francisco between 2000 and 2002 regarding sexual and drug use behaviors that confer risk for HIV transmission. The sample included 1918 men who have sex with men (MSM), 827 heterosexual men, and 978 women.
The findings appear in the August 15th issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
"Nearly 85% reported that they do not engage in behavior that places others at risk for infection," Dr. Weinhardt reported to Reuters Health.
"Most risky behavior that was reported occurred with other HIV-positive individuals, and when risky behavior occurred with HIV-negative partners or persons of unknown HIV status, the majority of subjects had told all of these partners about their HIV infection," he said.
Nonetheless, between 13% and 19% of those surveyed engaged in unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with partners who were HIV-negative or whose HIV status was unknown. And 18% of 304 injection drug users reported lending their used needles to others.
"The small percentage (note from Jules Levin: I don't consider 13-18% 'small') of HIV individuals engaging in transmission risk behavior indicates a need for physicians and other health care providers to routinely discuss and counsel HIV patients regarding relationships and risk behaviors during medical treatment," Dr. Weinhardt said.
"As HIV-positive individuals live longer and healthier lives, they face challenges in achieving a satisfactory quality of life and many can benefit from supportive counseling and auxiliary services," he added.
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2004;36:1057-1066.

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