UNDERSTANDING TESTS FOR HIV: WHO SHOULD GET TESTED-BEHAVIORS THAT RUN THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO HIV

Some of the following behaviors run a high risk of exposure to HIV, and the people who engage in the behaviors will find it in their best interests to get tested. Other behaviors run a lower risk, and the people who engage in them might want to get tested.     High-risk behaviors. The behaviors that run the highest risk of exposure to HIV are injecting drugs and having sex with gay or bisexual men. Hemophiliacs who received clotting factors before 1986 also have had a high risk of exposure to HIV. Having sex regularly with anyone who injects drugs, has gay sex with men, or has hemophilia also runs a high risk.     Among people with these behaviors, the frequency of HIV infection ranges from 10 percent to 70 percent, meaning that somewhere between 1 out of 10 and 7 out of 10 are infected. People with these levels of risk of infection should be tested.     The risks of HIV infection, and the recommendation for getting tested, differ in different parts of the country. In the Northeast, 20 percent to 70 percent of those who regularly use drugs intravenously are infected. In such areas as Denver, Tampa, and Los Angeles, only 5 percent or fewer of those who regularly use drugs intravenously are infected, a risk of 1 in 20. The risk of infection among men who have gay sex is more consistent throughout the country, ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent. For people with hemophilia, the risk of infection was constant in different parts of the country. The reason is that the clotting factors used for therapy were prepared and distributed throughout the United States from a central location. (It should be emphasized that these clotting factors are now considered safe because the blood is screened and because the factors are treated to eliminate HIV.)     In any case, those who will find it in their best interests to get tested are people who use drugs intravenously; or people who have sex with gay or bisexual men; or hemophiliacs who received clotting factor before 1986; or people who regularly have sex with any of the above or with people known to have HIV infection.     People who have high rates of infection also have different levels of risk. Among people who use injected drugs regularly, the risk is substantially higher than among those who use these drugs only occasionally. The same is true for sexual exposure: no one knows exactly what the risk is with a single sexual episode, although the number of people who have been infected after a single episode appears to be small. Those who have had sex with a lot of people have higher risks of infection than those who have had sex with fewer people. Those who have had sex more frequently with an infected partner have a higher risk of infection than those who have had sex less frequently. The risk is somewhat higher for women exposed to infected men than for men exposed to infected women. The risk of infection is also substantially higher in those who fail to practice “safer sex” or who have genital ulcers. And there may be differences according to the type of sexual practice: anal sex and sex that results in injury may be more likely to risk infection. As above, the probability of HIV infection depends on many interrelated variables. The probability by risk category may be 10 percent or 70 percent, but for the one who is infected, it is 100 percent. It is important for people to know this information so they can protect others and can obtain the best medical care.     Lower-risk behaviors. Other behaviors, though they still risk exposure to HIV, have a substantially lower risk. These include having many sexual partners, having sex with prostitutes (prostitutes have had many sexual partners and are also likely to use drugs), and having had transfusions between 1978 and 1985.     The risk of exposure from these behaviors is relatively small, but it may be large enough to warrant testing, especially if a person is worried about the possibility of exposure.*256\191\2*

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks

Random Posts

Comments are closed.