Author(s): Avants SK, Warburton LA, Hawkins KA, Margolin A
Drug users who are positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) represent a major vector of HIV transmission, yet relatively little is known about their continued drug- and sex-related HIV-risk behavior, which may impede the development of effective risk-reduction interventions. In this study, 50 HIV-seropositive injection drug users entering methadone maintenance treatment completed a comprehensive risk assessment battery, including self-report of HIV-risk behavior since learning HIV serostatus, and measures of risk-reduction information, motivation, and behavioral skills. We found that a disconcertingly high proportion of patients (66%) reported having engaged in HIV-risk behavior since learning their HIV-seropositive status. Level of HIV-related knowledge did not predict high-risk behavior. Drug-related risk behavior was predicted by psychiatric severity and poor behavioral skills. Sex-related risk was predicted by low levels of motivation and poor behavioral skills. Implications of these findings for treatment are discussed.