Some HIV-Positive Individuals Delay or Avoid Disclosing HIV Status to Sexual Partners, Study Shows
Some people with HIV may delay or altogether avoid telling their sex partners they have the disease, according to study findings presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association. Reuters Health reports that researchers from Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine interviewed 269 men and women treated in New Orleans HIV clinics between June 2000 and September 2000 (Norton, Reuters Health, 10/30). The average time between a participant's HIV diagnosis and the interview was 2.7 years. Fifty-two percent of participants were men, 84% were African-American and 80% contracted HIV through sex, "mostly heterosexual," the study states (O'Brien et al., "Prevalence and Predictors of HIV Disclosure to Different Categories of People," 10/23). Seventy-four percent of those with a "regular sex partner" said they had told their partner of their HIV status, while 70% told their immediate family members they were HIV-positive. However, only 25% of those with "casual sex partners" said they had told their partners of their HIV status. In addition, participants who did not tell casual partners of their HIV status were less likely to use condoms than those who disclosed their status "to at least one casual sexual contact." Megan O'Brien, lead author of the study, said that people who "look and feel healthy" while taking antiretrovirals need to realize that the drugs are "a treatment, not a cure," adding, "Individuals with and without HIV need to be educated about the limitations of antiretroviral therapy and the realities of HIV." She also said that HIV-negative people "cannot assume partners will volunteer their HIV status" and need to practice safe sex, and she suggested that health professionals counsel their HIV-positive patients on how to disclose their status (Reuters Health, 10/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.