A decade of HIV/AIDS prevention in Sweden: changes in attitudes associated with HIV and sexual risk behaviour from 1987 to 1997

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ObjectiveThe objective of the present study was to monitor the changes in determinants of HIV-related attitudes and behaviour over a 10 year period.Design/methodsIn the past decade, over 11 000 individuals in Sweden participated in this repeated cross-sectional study to assess the changes in attitudes and behaviour associated with HIV. Changes in the fear of persons who are HIV seropositive, optimism that scientists will find a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, engagement in discussions concerning HIV/AIDS as well as condom use, the number of sexual partners, and frequency of unprotected casual sex were assessed during four study years, 1987, 1989, 1994, and 1997.ResultsThe findings of this study suggest that changes in attitudes regarding HIV were more robust whereas only modest changes in sexual behaviour were observed. The fear of HIV-seropositive persons, optimism that a cure or vaccine would be developed, and engagement in discussions concerning HIV all decreased over the 10 year period. A trend in increased condom use was observed, particularly in younger participants, but little change in sex with multiple partners and unprotected casual sex was observed between 1987 and 1997.ConclusionChanges in attitudes regarding HIV are usually more often observed than changes in sexual behaviour. However, increased condom use in younger participants may be reflective of secular changes in sexual behaviour that may facilitate the prevention of HIV in Sweden.

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