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PLoS One. 2007 Dec 12;2(12):e1283.

Sexual risk behaviors for HIV/AIDS in Chuuk State, Micronesia: the case for HIV prevention in vulnerable remote populations.

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Office of Research, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Rockville, Maryland, United States of America.



After the first two cases of locally-acquired HIV infection were recognized in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a public health response was initiated. The purpose of the response was to assess the need for HIV education and prevention services, to develop recommendations for controlling further spread of HIV in Chuuk, and to initiate some of the prevention measures.


A public health team conducted a survey and rapid HIV testing among a sample of residents on the outer islands in Chuuk. Local public health officials conducted contact tracing and testing of sex partners of the two locally-acquired cases of HIV infection. A total of 333 persons completed the survey. The majority knew that HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact (81%), injection drug use (61%), or blood transfusion (64%). Sexual activity in the past 12 months was reported among 159 participants, including 90 females and 69 males. Compared to women, men were more likely to have had multiple sex partners, to have been drunk during sex, but less likely to have used a condom in the past 12 months. The two men with locally acquired HIV infection had unprotected anal sex with a third Chuukese man who likely contracted HIV while outside of Chuuk. All 370 persons who received voluntary, confidential HIV counseling and testing had HIV negative test results.


Despite the low HIV seroprevalence, risky sexual behaviors in this small isolated population raise concerns about the potential for rapid spread of HIV. The lack of knowledge about risks, along with stigmatizing attitudes towards persons infected with HIV and high risk sexual behaviors indicate the need for resources to be directed toward HIV prevention in Chuuk and on other Pacific Islands.

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