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J Clin Epidemiol. 1989;42(9):849-56.

Infectiousness of HIV between male homosexual partners.

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Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.


To estimate the risk of transmission of HIV per receptive anal sexual contact, 329 homosexually-active men, representing 155 sexual partnerships, were enrolled into a study. Information on HIV infection status and sexual behavior within and outside the primary relationship was collected. Of these 329 men, 24 had AIDS and 31 had ARC. Of the 155 couples, 35 consisted of partners that were both HIV +; 62 of partners that were both HIV-; and 58 were discordant. A binomial model was fit to data obtained in the first visit to estimate per contact risk of HIV transmission. Assuming a constant risk of transmission per sexual contact between infected and uninfected partners, the estimated risk is about 5 to 30 per 1000 receptive anal exposures to ejaculate. Although the average risk of HIV transmission per sexual contact appears to be low, there appears to be great variability in infectivity. To model this variability over time and across individuals, more complex models must be fit to longitudinal studies of sexual partners.

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