Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Highlights Recently Released Studies
The following highlights recently released studies related to HIV/AIDS.
- "'Islands of Risk': Subgroups of Adolescents at Risk for HIV," Journal of Pediatric Psychology: Christopher Houck of Bradley/Hasbro Children's Research Center in Providence, R.I., and colleagues conducted the study among 1,153 people ages 15 to 21 who reported having had unprotected sex in the past 90 days to determine the possibility of generating profiles of adolescent subgroups at risk of contracting HIV. The study finds that among the male participants, there are three subgroups: those with mental health issues who reported frequent unprotected sex and accounted for 10% of all boys and men in the study; those using marijuana and alcohol who reported unprotected sex, representing about half of the male participants; and a lower-risk group that had unprotected sex less frequently than the other two subgroups. Boys and men in the first group reported an average of 27 unprotected sex acts in the past 90 days, the study finds. Boys in the second group reported about 19 in the past 90 days, and members of the third group reported about seven in the past 90 days, according to the study. Researchers found that risk factors among the female participants were different, according to the researchers. Fourteen percent of girls and women in the study reported engaging in unprotected sex an average of 64 times over the past nine months but they did not report frequent alcohol or drug use or mental health issues. The researchers also found that 11% of female participants who reported higher drug or alcohol use and mental health issues also reported engaging in unprotected sex an average of 13 times in the past 90 days. Seventy-five percent of girls and women who reported engaging in unprotected sex an average of eight times in the past 90 days did not report heavy substance use or mental health issues, the study finds. According to Houck, 43% of the girls and women in the first group reported living with their sexual partner, which could explain the frequency of unprotected sex acts. The researchers are unsure of reasons behind the patterns recorded in the other two female subgroups, Houck said (Harding, Reuters Health, 7/8). "These patterns suggest that effective HIV prevention interventions may need to target the association between mental health and/or substance abuse with sexual risk for some adolescents," the researchers wrote (Houck et al., Journal of Pediatric Psychology, July 2006).
- "Moving Toward Assured Access to Treatment in Microbicide Trials," PLoS Medicine: Global Campaign for Microbicides Global North Programs Director Anna Forbes discusses the debate among HIV/AIDS advocates, sponsors of HIV prevention trials and trial participants in drafting a consensus statement that would set guidelines to provide access to care for people who become HIV-positive during a study or trial. One approach that has been suggested is to initiate trials, including those testing microbicides -- products such as gels, films and sponges that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections -- only in areas where government-sponsored antiretroviral drug treatment programs already are in place, Forbes writes. She adds that another approach is for trial sponsors to commit to paying for private care for each participant who contracts HIV during a trial. To make full access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care a "sustainable reality" in communities that host trials and studies, multilateral advocacy work to increase resources and apply political pressure will be needed, Forbes writes (Forbes, PLoS Medicine, 7/11).