Pilot study of AIDS risk in the general population

Robert W Jeffery, G. L. Burke, T. L. Schmid, J. Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study evaluated a methodology for obtaining information on the prevalence of risk behaviors for human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) in the general population. From two census tracts in an upper midwestern urban community, 334 households were identified at random. One adult between the ages of 18 and 55 years in each household was asked to complete a confidential questionnaire about knowledge and attitudes toward acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and risk behaviors for HIV infection. Half the responders were also asked to provide a blood sample for HIV serotesting. Response rates to the behavior questionnaire were high (85 to 90 percent). However, only 72 percent of those asked to provide a blood sample agreed to do so. Survey results showed low rates of HIV risk behavior in this population sample. The median number of lifetime sexual partners was five for men and three for women, and most reported contacts exclusively with persons of the opposite sex. Eleven percent of the men and 5 percent of the women reported having had sexual partners of the same sex during their lifetime. Seven percent of men and 3 percent of women reported same sex partners in the last 12 months. Very few reported extremely high-risk behaviors (that is, only one man reported multiple sexual partners with anal intercourse in the previous year). About one in five survey respondents reported having changed his or her behavior because of the AIDS epidemic, usually by being more selective about and reducing the number of sexual partners. Success of the methodology employed in this survey gives reason for optimism that population-based surveys of behavioral risks for HIV infection are feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-109
Number of pages5
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992


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