Sexual practices and AIDS knowledge among women partners of HIV-infected hemophiliacs

Susan Mayes, V. Elsesser, J. H. Schaefer, H. A. Handford, L. Michael-Good

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18 Scopus citations


About 12 percent of the women sex partners of hemophilic men who are seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have themselves become seropositive. Questionnaires were completed in January 1988 by 15 women who were in long-term, monogamous relationships with HIV-positive hemophiliacs; 11 of the women were not HIV seropositive and 4 were. None of the couples was abstaining from sexual intercourse, and during the 4 weeks prior to responding, the couples had intercourse a mean of 6.2 times. Sixty percent always used condoms, 13 percent did so most of the time, and the remaining 27 percent did sometimes. Condom use was not significantly related to either frequency of intercourse, the women's knowledge of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-risk reduction, the actual HIV status of both partners and the women's perceived status of both, the extent of the women's worry about contracting AIDS, their reported degree of negative impact from AIDS, or to their mood, age, or education. All women who reported not always using condoms had been informed of their own and their partner's HIV status; were counseled repeatedly regarding risk reduction; acknowledged the possibility of heterosexual HIV transmission; said they knew of recommendations for the use of condoms; recognized their risk of HIV infection; claimed some degree of worry about acquiring HIV through sexual activity; had children at home; and were not, with one exception, trying to become pregnant. There were several possible factors influencing the decision by women at high risk for acquiring HIV not to use condoms. Among them were complaints that the women found condoms unpleasant or an unwanted reminder of AIDS, a sense of obligation or a drive to continue unaltered sexual relations, the false reassurance of HIV-negative test results for some of the women who did not always use condoms, a willingness to sacrifice and to share their partner's fate, a desire to avoid communicating rejection and adding to their partner's burdens, and difficulty changing long-standing behavior patterns despite logical understanding of the risks involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-514
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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