HIV positive female drug injection users in US and South Africa practice unsafe sex with their uninfected partners, according to a new study.
"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," said lead author Dr. Mary H. Latka. The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
It followed 426 HIV-positive female injection drug users living in Baltimore, Miami, New York or San Francisco. They found that in the 370 sexually active women, 144 had sex with a steady partner, while 148 indulged in unsafe sex with casual partners.
Around 60 percent of the women did not regularly use condoms with their regular partner But "men who were aware that their close female partner was HIV-positive were much more likely to use a condom."
"HIV-positive women may need structural interventions such as better access to drug treatment," Latka said. "Curbing illicit drug use 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."