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HIV-positive people, risk and sexual behaviour


  • Schiltz, M. A.
  • Sandfort, Th. G. M.


For a long time, the sexual behaviour of HIV-infected persons did not receive any serious attention for a variety of reasons. Initially, diagnosis of HIV-infection appeared to imply a death sentence. In this context, the sex life of those infected seemed a secondary issue making prevention focused on sexual behaviour hard to imagine. Furthermore, the conviction that stigmatisation should be avoided also precluded an interest in the sexual behaviour of HIV-infected persons. From an epidemiological perspective and in the context of the developments in the medical treatment of AIDS it is important to address the sexuality of HIV-infected people. The scarce research done until now shows that there are various ways in which an HIV-infection affects people's sexuality. It seems that the sexuality of HIV-infected people can be compromised by their infection, inducing various sexual problems. Research also shows that there are HIV-infected people who do engage in unprotected sex, just as there are HIV-negative people or people with unknown serostatus who do so. Studies into the determinants of unsafe sex in HIV-infected people suggest that to some extent the same determinants are operative as among people in general. These include intention and self-efficacy regarding safe sex. Recreational drug use also affects safe sex regardless of serostatus. However, safe sex as well as sex in general is different for seropositive persons than for people who are seronegative or have an unknown serostatus. Among seropositive people, sex is also related to dilemma's involving disclosing their serostatus to potential sex partners, and their motivation to protect their partners as well as themselves against surinfection and STD. Furthermore, having to cope with a serious disease induces negative mood states (particularly depression) and may compromise sexual functioning. Comprehensive prevention aimed at HIV infected persons should address these various issues and should be an integrated part of general HIV-prevention.

Suggested Citation

  • Schiltz, M. A. & Sandfort, Th. G. M., 2000. "HIV-positive people, risk and sexual behaviour," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(11), pages 1571-1588, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:50:y:2000:i:11:p:1571-1588

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierret, Janine, 2007. "An analysis over time (1990-2000) of the experiences of living with HIV," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(8), pages 1595-1605, October.
    2. King, Rachel & Lifshay, Julie & Nakayiwa, Sylvia & Katuntu, David & Lindkvist, Pille & Bunnell, Rebecca, 2009. "The virus stops with me: HIV-infected Ugandans' motivations in preventing HIV transmission," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 749-757, February.
    3. Peretti-Watel, P. & Spire, B. & Schiltz, M.A. & Bouhnik, A.D. & Heard, I. & Lert, F. & Obadia, Y., 2006. "Vulnerability, unsafe sex and non-adherence to HAART: Evidence from a large sample of French HIV/AIDS outpatients," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(10), pages 2420-2433, May.
    4. Ridge, Damien & Ziebland, Sue & Anderson, Jane & Williams, Ian & Elford, Jonathan, 2007. "Positive prevention: Contemporary issues facing HIV positive people negotiating sex in the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 755-770, August.


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