15-month followup of women methadone patients taught skills to reduce heterosexual HIV transmission

El-Bassel, Nabila; Schilling, Robert F.

Heterosexual contact with intravenous drug users accounts for a growing proportion of cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among women. In an earlier study designed to reduce sexual risk behavior, the authors randomly assigned 91 methadone maintained women to information-only or skills-building conditions. Modest outcomes favored participants in the skills-building group. In this 15-month followup of 62 remaining study participants, skills-training group members were more likely than controls to use condoms. In comparison with controls, members in the skills-building group felt more comfortable talking about safe sex, perceived themselves as more able to reduce their exposure to AIDS, but were more likely to attribute AIDS risk to luck. No associations were found between group condition and number of sexual partners or frequency of buying and carrying condoms. Some gains associated with a group intervention tended to be maintained over time, indicating that preventive interventions composed of multiple sessions and conducted in treatment settings may have promise as useful strategies to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Nevertheless, decay was evident in other domains, suggesting that prevention specialists should consider booster sessions or other means of maintaining changes in risk behavior.


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April 5, 2012