Lesbian and Bisexual Women May Practice Unsafe Sex, 84% Unaware of Risks
Most of the lesbian and bisexual women responding to an anonymous survey reported "multiple episodes of unprotected sex every month that involved potential exchange of vaginal secretions, blood and semen," but 84% said they were at "zero risk" for HIV or STD exposure over the previous year and only 21% had ever suggested using safe sex to partners, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Reuters Health reports that of 504 female respondents to a questionnaire issued by Dr. Kathleen Morrow and Jenifer Allsworth of the Brown University School of Medicine, 87% identified themselves as lesbian and 13% as bisexual. Eighty-eight percent of the women had had at least one female sexual partner in the previous year, 27% had more than one partner, and of the 17% who had a male partner, 32% reported two or more male partners. Although bisexual women were more likely to have had multiple sexual partners than lesbians, they "did not differ significantly" in their rate of previous HIV testing. Nineteen percent of the women reported active oral-anal sex, 20% reported sexual activity involving possible exposure to blood, and 26% reported having been previously diagnosed with an STD. Morrow and Allsworth concluded, "To disregard these women based on their self-identified sexual orientation or the presumed innocuousness of the sexual risk between women would be to open the door to expanding the AIDS epidemic within a poorly defined, and hence difficult to reach, population" (Reuters Health, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.