Sexual Health news - Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Only half of HIV-infected individuals disclose illness

When it comes to the HIV epidemic, researchers are constantly trying to figure out how to prevent the disease from spreading. One of the easiest ways to do this is actually in the hands of the infected individuals. Promoting honest disclosure is an essential public health goal that can encourage sexual partners to engage in safe sex and actively seek testing and counselling.

In the U.S., 1.1 million people are HIV positive and 21 percent of them are not aware of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, in other regions like Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV is even more of an epidemic, growing at fast rates and affecting over 1.5 million people in 2010, according to Russia and the Ukraine together are responsible for 90 percent of the HIV-positive population in these three areas.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) worked with Pavlov State University in Russia to investigate the effectiveness of nondisclosure of HIV within a cohort of 700 infected individuals. It was reported in article in the journal AIDS Behavior that 52.4 percent of the participants did not disclose their illness to their sexual partners.

The study also looked at how the variable of alcohol affected the outcome of whether individuals disclose their infection and was observed to have no effect.

"We now know that nondisclosure of HIV status to sex partners is still very common in Russia and that risky alcohol use is also very common however we were there we were unable to detect an association between any alcohol use and the outcome of recent nondisclosure," explained Karsten Lunze, M.D., the lead author of the study and a fellow in the Clinical Addiction Research & Education Unit at BUSM.