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Patient Educ Couns. 1999 Mar;36(3):239-46.

Targeted prevention for people with HIV/AIDS: feasible and desirable?

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Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands.


People with HIV/AIDS are rarely chosen as a target group for prevention activities. In this paper we look at empirical and theoretical evidence for the feasibility and desirability of directing preventive interventions at HIV-positives. Research data on the behaviour and motivation of HIV-positives suggests that the differences between HIV-positives and HIV-negatives and those who are unaware of their HIV-status are not large. However, specific determinants of behaviour, such as responsibility for others or the risk of superinfection, have seldom been measured. Effective interventions targeting at HIV-positives and focussing on prevention are lacking. Fear of increased stigmatization has been used as an argument against focussing prevention activities at HIV-positives. Theoretically that argument is probably not correct: positive coping with HIV may invite positive reactions. The conclusion is that HIV-positives should be chosen as a special target group for additional planned preventive interventions. Because people need to be aware of their HIV status, testing and treatment sites are adequate settings. Effective interventions should be developed on the basis of theory and evidence about the specific determinants of risk behaviour of HIV-positives: protecting oneself for superinfection and protecting one's partner.

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