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Building skills of recovering women drug users to reduce heterosexual AIDS transmission

Schilling, Robert F.; El-Bassel, Nabila; Schinke, Steven Paul; Gordon, Kathy; Nichols, Stuart

Although most women infected with HIV are intravenous drug users, some contact the virus through sexual contact with IV drug users. To reach at-risk women, public health officials must develop a range of prevention strategies. One approach, skills training, holds promise as a means of altering risk-related sexual behavior. In this study, 91 women methadone patients were pretested and randomly assigned to an information-only control control group or a skills-building intervention group. Skills-building intervention consisted of five sessions of small groups in which participants identified their own high risk sexual behaviors, discussed their negative associations with condoms, and practiced skills which involved asking partners to use condoms. Compared with members of the control group, respondents in the intervention group reported that they initiated discussion of sexual issues with their partners more frequently, felt more comfortable talking with them about safer sex, and reported using and carrying condoms more frequently. The high rates of attendance and program retention by skills-building participants suggest that such groups may be supportive and useful in the design of risk reduction and drug abuse treatment programs. The modest outcomes of this study underscore the difficulty of altering risk behavior but also serve as a basis for future AIDS prevention studies.

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Public Health Reports

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Social Work
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April 5, 2012
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