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Am J Prev Med. 1993 Mar-Apr;9(2):92-5.

Sexual risk and perception of risk for HIV infection among multiethnic family-planning clients.

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  • 1Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco 94105.


Little is known about the relationship among having risks for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, perceiving oneself at risk, and initiating risk reduction for young sexually active women. We surveyed a multiethnic sample of 267 young-adult female family planning clients attending Planned Parenthood clinics to determine these relationships. Perceiving oneself at risk was significantly associated with having sex outside of a primary relationship in the past year, with having five or more sexual partners in the last five years, and with having a primary partner who has other partners. We found no significant relationship between perceiving oneself at risk and adopting risk-reduction strategies, such as inquiring about a partner's risks or using condoms. These data suggest that the women in this population may be overly optimistic about their invulnerability to HIV. While those women who perceived themselves to be at risk for becoming sexually infected with HIV were more likely to report high-risk behaviors, perception of risk did not motivate these women to adopt low-risk behavior. These data suggest that simple HIV education and acknowledgement may have little effect on reducing exposure to HIV among the women in this population. Alternative strategies for reducing risk must be explored.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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