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HIV Transmission Risks of Females and Males in Paired Partner Relationships

JHHSA, Vol. 24 No. 2, (2001)

As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has evolved, heterosexual behaviors have come to be an increasingly important mode of transmission and rates of infection have increased faster among women generally and minority women in particular. Most of what we know about heterosexual risk taking is based on survey data collected from either women or men. These data have been useful for helping to understand different levels and types of risk taking by women and men. However, they provide little information about the levels of risk taking that exist for paired partners in main partner relationships, the types of risks each partner brings to the relationship and how the contribution of partner risks varies. Using data from the pretest of a pilot project designed to test a behavioral intervention to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission among main sex partners, the authors developed four subscales of sexual risk taking for each partner. The association between subscales are combined to obtain measures of couple risks. Particular attention is given to the gender contribution of partners to couple risk and the differential contribution of types of risk to total risk. The data suggest that, even though men bring relatively higher risks to their main partner relationship than women, this varies inversely with the level of couple risk.

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