Advances in the treatment of HIV disease with protease inhibitor combination therapies have been widely documented in the media.Objectives:
To investigate perceptions concerning the severity of HIV/AIDS and the need to maintain safer sex practices in the light of recent HIV treatment advances.Methods:
A survey eliciting demographic characteristics, HIV serostatus and treatment information, and HIV/AIDS severity and safer sex perceptions was administered to a community sample of 379 homo-/bisexual men who reported awareness of combination therapy regimens.Results:
Ten per cent of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ‘AIDS is now very nearly cured’ and 13% felt that the threat of AIDS is less serious than in the past. HIV-positive men were more likely to perceive AIDS as a less serious threat or as very nearly cured. Overall, 8% of men in the sample indicated that they practice safer sex less often since new AIDS treatments came along; 18% of HIV-positive men on combination therapy regimens said they practice safer sex less frequently since treatments have advanced. Regardless of serostatus, nearly 20% of men indicated they would stop practicing safer sex if an AIDS cure was announced.Conclusion:
It is essential to integrate behavior change counseling into HIV treatment programs and to temper optimism concerning treatment advances with recognition that the threat of HIV/AIDS remains great.