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Sexual behaviour of heterosexual individuals with HIV infection naive for antiretroviral therapy in Italy
  1. Enrico Girardi1,
  2. Maria Stella Aloisi1,
  3. Diego Serraino1,
  4. Michele Ferrara1,
  5. Francesco N Lauria1,
  6. Manuel Carballo2,
  7. Antonella d'Arminio Monforte3,
  8. Giovanni Rezza4,
  9. Mauro Moroni3,
  10. Giampiero Carosi5,
  11. Anna Alessandrini6,
  12. Donatella Giacobbi7,
  13. Laura Cremonini8,
  14. Sergio Ranieri9,
  15. Maria Montroni10,
  16. Giuseppe Ippolito1,
  17. the ICONA Study Group*
  1. 1Centro di Riferimento AIDS, IRCCS “L Spallanzani,” Roma, Italy
  2. 2International Centre for Migration and Health, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3Istituto di Malattie Infettive e Tropicali, Università di Milano, Milano, Italy
  4. 4Istituto Superiore di Sanità, COA, Roma, Italy
  5. 5Clinica Malattie Infettive e Tropicali, Università di Brescia, Brescia, Italy
  6. 6Divisione di Malattie Infettive, Ospedale “S Martino,” Genova, Italy
  7. 7Divisione di Malattie Infettive, Ospedale “Armedeo di Savoia,” Torino, Italy
  8. 8Clinica Malattie Infettive, Università di Modena, Modena, Italy
  9. 9Divisione di Malattie Infettive, Ospedale “S Maria delle Croci,” Ravenna, Italy
  10. 10Servizio di Immunologia, Ospedale Torrette di Ancona, Ancona, Italy
  1. Dr Giuseppe Ippolito, Centro di Riferimento AIDS e Servizio di Epidemiologia delle Malattie Infettive, IRCCS Lazzaro Spallanzani, Via Portuense 292, 00149 Roma, Italy ippolito{at}


Background: Specific information about determinants of sexual behaviour of HIV infected heterosexuals, like injecting drug use (IDU), are essential to design interventions aimed at promoting safer sex practices.

Methods: We analysed data on sexual behaviour collected, between March 1997 and March 1999, through a self administered questionnaire among 1050 IDUs and 642 non-IDU heterosexuals enrolled in a prospective multicentre cohort study on the natural history of HIV infection.

Results: Among non-IDU heterosexuals, more women (48.5%) than men (25.1%) (p<0.001) reported that they were infected by HIV positive regular partners whose HIV status they were not aware of. Among the 1119 heterosexual males, one fifth reported having had more than 25 sexual partners during their lifetime. Condom use in the last sexual intercourse was more common among heterosexual IDUs (64.9%) than among non-IDU heterosexual males (58.3%) (p=0.05). Heterosexual IDU males were more likely (66.7%) than non-IDU heterosexuals (50.6%) to have an HIV negative partner (p<0.001). Of the 573 heterosexual females studied, 10.2% reported having had more than 25 lifetime sex partners. This proportion was higher among heterosexual IDUs (18.8%) than among non-IDU heterosexuals (4.3%) (p<0.001). Nearly 50% of the women in both groups reported having used a condom in the last intercourse. Almost 57% of heterosexual IDUs had a current HIV negative partner, compared with 34.9% non-IDU heterosexuals (p<0.001). In both sexes, the findings from univariate analysis were confirmed by multiple logistic regression analysis.

Conclusions: This study identified some important differences, in both males and females, in sexual lifestyles according to injecting drug use (for example, in terms of HIV negative partners). This observation indicates the need to tailor HIV prevention messages according to history of injecting drug use.

  • sexual behaviour
  • injecting drug use
  • heterosexuals
  • HIV infection

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