Abstinence Reduces HIV For High-Risk Women - Even Those Who Relapse - Study,,Shows

LINTHICUM, MD, June 17 - Women's abstinence from high-risk sexual and needle-sharing behavior is effective in reducing the spread and cost of HIV, even if the women subsequently relapse, according to an article in this month's special edition of a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

"There are two key findings here," said Dr. Margaret L. Brandeau of Stanford University, who co-authored the operations research study about the value of HIV screening and counseling programs for women. "One is that relapses occur, even at the best treatment programs. And two, even when there's a relapse, a temporary reduction in risky behavior can still lead to diminishing the spread of the HIV infection."

The article appears in a special issue about AIDS in Interfaces: An International Journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Dr. Brandeau is the issue's special editor. She and other contributors to the issue will offer papers and oral presentations at the 12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva from June 28 to July 3.

Screening and Counseling Women

The study evaluates the effectiveness of three different kinds of programs: programs that target (1) women who are intravenous drug users (IDUs); (2) women who are IDUs and women who have high risk sexual partners; and (3) all women. These programs screen women to determine whether they carry the AIDS virus and offer counseling on ways to reduce the chance of contracting or spreading HIV. The study looks at the programs' costs and benefits, both in preventing the spread of HIV and in dollar measures of medical bills and earnings. In particular, it helps policy makers who are devising programs determine a break-even success rate, given that a percentage of women who initially reduce their high-risk behavior eventually relapse partially or completely.

Small Changes, Big Impact

Results of math modeling show that

Contact: Barry List
410 691-7852
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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