- CHICAGO (AP) -- Four out of every 10 HIV-infected people surveyed at two New
England hospitals failed to inform sex partners about their condition,
and nearly two-thirds of those didn't always use a condom, researchers
- The survey subjects were mostly poor,
often illegal drug users and commonly lacked high school educations, but
researchers reporting in Monday's issue of Archives of Internal Medicine
believe withholding HIV information is widespread.
- "The public health message ... is
that if you don't know the HIV status of your partner, you should be having
safe sex" by using a condom, said the lead researcher, Dr. Michael
Stein, director of HIV medical activities at Brown University Medical School
in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Stein wasn't the only one worried about
the lack of disclosure.
- Threat Posed By Complacency
- "There's a need for greater attention
to individual personal responsibility," said Daniel Zingale, executive
director of the Washington-based activist group, AIDS Action. "One
of the things we've been concerned about this past year or so is complacency."
- Researchers questioned 203 HIV-positive
patients getting treatment at Boston City Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital
between 1994 and 1996, and 129 reported sexual activity during the previous
- Subjects with only one sexual partner
were three times more likely to have told their partners than subjects
with multiple partners. Also, subjects who said they had a lot of support
from their spouse were almost three times as likely to tell.
- 'A Matter Of Personal Responsibility'
- Whites and Hispanics were three times
as likely to tell partners as blacks.
- Among the sexually active patients, 46
percent were black, 23 percent were Hispanic and 27 percent were white.
In the group, 69 percent were men.
- Forty-one percent were infected through
injection drug use, 20 percent were men who contracted the virus via homosexual
contact, and 39 percent got HIV from heterosexual contact, researchers
- Stein noted that previous surveys of
gay men reached similar findings, especially the high likelihood of disclosure
to a single partner and reduced likelihood among those with multiple partners.
- "This is not a problem of knowledge,"
Stein said. "People understand their HIV risk of transmission. It's
been shown again and again. People are not ignorant of these subjects.
This is a matter of personal responsibility."