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

a dominant force in America today, but the main focus of many faith communities is sexual abstinence, rather than examining how else religious beliefs may help to prevent the spread of HIV, Galvan said.

“This study suggests that there's a role for religious institutions to play in the fight against the spread of HIV,” Galvan said. “They have these core belief systems that do have a positive impact on the lives of people who are HIV-positive and who are sexually active. Religiosity is an untapped resource in the whole struggle against HIV and AIDS, and should be looked at more thoroughly.”

Researchers studied a nationally representative sample of 1,421 people getting medical care for HIV — 932 of whom reported recent sexual activity.

Catholics were less likely than other mainline Christians, non-Christians and non-religious people to report unprotected sex. Catholics also were less likely to report high-risk sex than other mainline Christians and reported fewer partners than non-Christians.

There was no statistical difference between Evangelicals and Catholics in reported sexual activity. Evangelicals were as likely as Catholics to have fewer sexual partners, and equally likely to engage less frequently in unprotected and high-risk sex.

The RAND Health study is titled “Religiosity, Denominational Affiliation and Sexual Behaviors among People with HIV in the U.S.” It appears in the February issue of the Journal of Sex Research, which was published in March. The study was conducted with a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The new report used data from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HSCUS), which was conducted by RAND from January 1996 to April 1997, with follow-up interviews from December 1996 through June 1997. What makes this data set unique is that it was collected from a national p
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