(Reuters Health) - Many women in the United States
who are injection drug users and are also infected
with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, do not
routinely use condoms with their uninfected
regular partners or with casual sex partners,
according to researchers in the U.S. and South
"Forty percent of
the HIV-positive women in our sample were having
sex with at-risk male partners, and more than half
of the time, condoms were not used consistently,"
lead investigator Dr. Mary H. Latka told Reuters
Latka of the
Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South
Africa University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban and
colleagues conducted a study with 426 women who
were HIV-positive injection drug users living in
Baltimore, Miami, New York or San Francisco. The
study findings are reported in the June issue of
the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency
Among the 370
sexually active women, 144 had sex with a steady
partner and 148 had sex with casual partners who
were either uninfected or their HIV status was
unknown. A number of women also had sex with
steady and casual partners.
Overall, 60 percent of the women inconsistently
used condoms with their regular partner and with
53 percent of their casual partners.
continued Latka "men who were aware that their
close female partner was HIV-positive were much
more likely to use a condom."
couples with one HIV-infected and one uninfected
member, health care professionals might try to
work with both individuals to encourage them to
talk about their HIV status, which may help
increase the use of condoms, she said.
In addition, the
team found that inconsistent condom use was
associated with greater drug and alcohol use
during sex, negative beliefs about condoms and a
lower sense of personal responsibility to protect
"HIV-positive women," continued Latka, "may need
structural interventions such as better access to
"Curbing illicit drug use," she concluded, "would
not only benefit HIV-positive women, it may also
play an important role in reducing the continued
spread of HIV from infected women to others."
of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, June