Report: Americans Curbing Behaviors That Lead to HIV

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Fewer Americans are engaging in behaviors that raise their risk for HIV/AIDS, primarily because men and women are changing their sexual activities, according to an extensive new federal report released Thursday.

The decline should raise hopes that the messages of the public-health community have gotten through, said Anjani Chandra, a health scientist and lead researcher of the National Center for Health Statistics report.

The report - which stems from private answers given by nearly 23,000 people -found that 10 percent of men and 8 percent of women, or 11.4 million Americans, engaged in at least one risk behavior that could lead to exposure to HIV/AIDS in 2006 through 2010.

Those numbers were down from 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, or 14.4 million persons, who in 2002 reported engaging in at least one risky behavior.

The data come from two cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, a massive, in-person survey taken of people between the ages of 15 and 44. To promote honesty among respondents, the NSFG uses laptops and head phones for questions about personal sexual and drug activity; only the person taking the survey knows what is being asked and answered.

The questions are about 10 HIV-risk-related behaviors a person may have engaged in over the previous 12 months.

Several categories saw no significant change: The percentage of men having sex with men stayed the same (2.1 percent), as did the number of those reporting five or more opposite-sex sex partners (3.9 percent for men, 1.8 percent for women. …