More Than 75% of HIV-Positive People in New Orleans Do Not Disclose Status to Casual Sex Partners, Study Says
Approximately three-fourths of HIV-positive people living in New Orleans do not disclose their HIV status to their casual sex partners, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Researchers from the CDC and the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine interviewed 269 HIV-positive people at two New Orleans sexually transmitted disease clinics (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/16). Approximately 74.2% of respondents reported disclosing their HIV status to their primary sex partner, 69.8% to an immediate family member, 27% to another family member, 26.4% to a friend and 24.8% to a casual sex partner. Immunosuppressed individuals were more likely than nonimmunosuppressed individuals to disclose their status to a primary sex partner or a family member (O'Brien et al., Sexually Transmitted Diseases, September 2003). The researchers also found that patients between the ages of 18 and 22 were least likely to disclose their HIV status, the Times-Picayune reports. In addition, three of the 91 study participants in that age group said that they had more than 100 sex partners each since they were diagnosed, and the remaining 88 participants in the age group reported having a total of 184 partners, which suggests a "significant potential for HIV transmission," according to the researchers.
Consistent Condom Use
The researchers concluded that because of the lack of communication between HIV-positive people and their casual sex partners, HIV-negative people should use condoms with all sex partners and not make the assumption that HIV-positive partners will disclose their status, according to the Times-Picayune. Lisa Longfellow, manager of the sexually transmitted disease program in the state Office of Public Health, said, "If three out of four people don't tell their partners, this certainly points to the need for partner counseling and referral services." Longfellow added that the findings also support the CDC's recent decision to focus primarily on HIV-positive people as a way to prevent HIV transmission (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/16).