About AIDS

Recent research suggests that HIV-infected people taking antiviral therapy believe that safe sex practices are less important because their virus levels have dropped. Of those taking anti-viral therapies, about 20% of respondents believed that disease transmission was less likely. The more aggressive the therapy, the more convinced the individuals were that they are less dangerous to their partners, whether in vaginal or anal intercourse.

Intuitively, one would expect that lower viral loads would result in less likelihood of transmission, but there is no clinical evidence that this is actually so. Furthermore, people often confuse probability with possibility. Lead researcher Dr. Stephen Kravcik suggests that transmission of HIV may increase "if changes in knowledge and attitudes toward HIV risk lead to a change in sexual and drug use behaviors and practices."

The bottom line: HIV+ people must still maintain the highest levels of caution and responsibility in their intimate relationships. Just because the chance of infecting someone else may be lower does not mean that the chance is removed. And with this often-fatal disease, any chance is unacceptable. (for details, see Journal of AIDS and Human Retrovirology, 10/1/98.)

-- Sandy Bartlett, Community Information/Education Coordinator

AIDS Services of Austin

ASA Info Line: 458-AIDS
E-mail: ASA@fc.net

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