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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: Report: Americans Curbing Behaviors that Lead to HIV
Cheryl Wetzstein
January 24, 2012
Washington Times (01.20.12) - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fewer Americans are engaging in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV, according to a CDC report released Thursday. The study is based on data from nearly 23,000 respondents to the 2006-10 National Survey of Family Growth, and it included comparisons with data from the 2002 NSFG. The participants, ages 15-44, were asked a number of questions, including some dealing with 10 HIV risk-related behaviors during the previous 12 months.

Approximately 10 percent of men and 8 percent of women reported engaging in at least one HIV risk behavior in the 2006-10 NSFG, down from 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women in the 2002 NSFG. To encourage honest responses, the survey uses laptops and headphones for questions about personal sexual and drug activity, so only the person taking the survey knows what is being asked and answered.

Categories that saw no significant change included the proportion of men reporting sex with men (2.1 percent) and respondents who reported five or more opposite-sex partners (3.9 percent of men, 1.8 percent of women).

However, reports of sex with a partner who injects drugs fell to less than 1 percent for both genders. Both males and females reported fewer episodes of sex in exchange for money or drugs (1.3 percent for men, 0.7 percent for women). The proportion of women reporting sex with male partners who had sex with other males fell from 2.3 percent to 1.4 percent. Among men, crack cocaine use decreased from 1.8 percent to 0.8 percent.

Nonetheless, a gender gap remained, with "lower levels of risk behaviors reported by women compared with men," said Anjani Chandra, PhD, a health statistician and lead author of the National Center for Health Statistics report.

In addition, increases in one risk factor, STD treatment, could be seen in a positive light. Among women, reported STD treatment rose from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 4.1 percent of respondents in 2006-10.

The full report, "HIV Risk-Related Behaviors in the United States Household Population Aged 15-44 Years: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 2002 and 2006-2010," was published in the National Health Statistics Report (2012;46).