Clinic-based HIV prevention effective in reducing sexual risk behaviors

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Washington, March 25 (ANI): Clinic-based HIV prevention is effective in reducing sexual risk behaviours, a new American study has revealed.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has appeared in the online edition of the journal "AIDS and Behavior".

Lead author Janet J. Myers, assistant professor of medicine at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and co-principal investigator of the project, said: "We found the greatest and most sustained reductions in sexual risk took place when the prevention interventions were delivered by medical care providers during HIV patients' routine visits. An important feature of this research is that it was conducted in actual clinical settings and not in the somewhat artificial setting of a clinical trial."

On receiving risk assessment prevention counselling from their clinical providers, HIV patients showed a consistent decline in risky behaviour over the 12-month study period.

The researchers found HIV patients cut almost by 50 per cent their sexual risk behaviours: unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse with either a HIV-negative partner or one whose status was unknown.

HIV patients receiving services from health educators, social workers or peer educators also significantly reduced risk behaviours at 6 months, but not at 12 months.

Steve Morin, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the study's principal investigator, said: "Other studies testing behavioral prevention interventions have demonstrated that boosters delivered at periodic intervals assist in sustaining behavior changes. Since patients see their medical providers regularly to monitor disease and therapeutic regimens, delivering prevention services during these visits is not only exceedingly effective in reducing risk behaviors, but is likely to be highly cost-effective."

The roughly 3500 HIV-positive trial participants were diverse - half of the sample was homosexual men, 30 per cent was women and 20 percent was heterosexual men. The study was carried out at 13 demonstration sites in 12 states and included sites in major urban centres and sites in smaller cities.

Morin said: "These findings are very robust given the number of participants and their diversity and the variety of sites where the research was conducted. This intervention, especially when elivered by medical care providers, should be considered for inclusion in emerging 'test and treat' and 'test, treat and link to care' models that seek to dramatically increase the number of HIV-infected patients receiving care. The expected prevention benefits from increasing the number of people who know their HIV status and from successfully achieving some viral control amongst those infected could be effectively and efficiently increased if these behavioral interventions are included as part of a combination HIV prevention effort." (ANI)

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