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Religiosity May Be Instrumental In Preventing The Spread Of HIV-AIDS

HIV-positive people who are religious are less likely to indulge in sexual activities and have fewer sexual partners than those who are not religiously// inclined, according to a study by the RAND Corporation.

HIV-positive people who say religion is an important part of their lives are likely to have fewer sexual partners and engage in high-risk sexual behavior less frequently than other people with the virus that causes AIDS, according to a study issued today by the RAND Corporation.

As a result, people with HIV who have stronger religious ties are less likely to spread the virus, according to the study by the nonprofit research organization.

The study measured religiosity by asking people to report how important religion was in their lives; whether they identified with a particular religious group; whether they preferred being with people of the same religion; and how often they attended religious or spiritual services.

David Kanouse, a RAND senior behavioral scientist and principal investigator on the project, said the study did not identify what specific component of religiosity made a difference in sexual activity. However, he said two factors – moral beliefs and membership in a faith community – may be important.

“Moral beliefs may indicate an underlying altruism and a desire to make sure no one else is infected with HIV,” Kanouse said. “Promoting these feelings could then be used as a component of HIV prevention programs.”

“These are some significant findings about the role of religiosity in the lives of people who are HIV-positive,” said Frank H. Galvan, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. “The next step is to find out how can we use this information in a way that can help lower the rate of spreading HIV to others.”

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