Protease inhibitor combination therapies and perceptions of gay men regarding AIDS severity and the need to maintain safer sex

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Advances in the treatment of HIV disease with protease inhibitor combination therapies have been widely documented in the media.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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