Almost one-third of U.S. adults have made changes in their sex lives because of AIDS, according to a nationwide survey on sexual practices.
Most are using condoms more often and getting to know their partners better before having sex, and some are abstaining from sex completely, according to results from the survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago.
And by and large, the people who could benefit most from making such changes are the ones doing so, researchers said.
“The people who’ve had the most sex partners in the last five years are the people who are at the most risk,” said Joel Feinleib, a public policy analyst at the University of Chicago who has analyzed some of the data. “And it’s those people who are most likely to have changed their behavior.”
Conversely, people who have had fewer sex partners in the last five years were less likely to have changed their sex habits, Feinleib said.
The figures are comforting, he said, be cause they show that people are acting rationally in response to the threat of AIDS.
“If it were the reverse …,” he said, “we’d be very concerned.”
Despite the encouraging findings, Feinleib noted that more than 30 percent of heterosexual men whose behavior puts them at a high risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases haven’t changed their sexual behavior at all.
Feinleib presented the results in Atlanta at a meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The figures come from what experts say is the most reliable survey ever of sexual practices of people in the United States.
The survey, released in October, was widely publicized because it suggested that Americans are less promiscuous than other studies have shown.To get the data, researchers interviewed more than 3,400 people between ages 18 and 59 living in U.S. households. These people were selected to be representative of 150 million adult Americans.Feinleib also said that
men were more likely to have changed their sexual behavior than women. Thirty-five percent of men reported changes, compared with 25 percent of women. Forty-six percent of African Americans said they changed their sex lives, while 26 percent of whites said they did. The difference could be because more African Americans are single and therefore less likely to have only one partner, Feinleib said.
Almost two-thirds of men who had ever had sex with another man had changed their sexual behavior because of the risk of AIDS, he said.
Almost 30 percent of the people in the U.S. survey said they made changes. Of them, 29 percent said they used condoms more often, 26 percent said they practiced monogamy, and 25 percent said they got to know their partners better before having sex with them.