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July 15, 2008

Sex Counseling for Recovering Drug Users in Russia

Safer-sex counseling for people enrolled in drug-use treatment programs can help lower the risk of HIV transmission for both positive and negative people, according to researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, as reported by the Indian news site ANI/New Kerala (newkerala.com, 7/12).

According to the article, the study focused on “substance-dependent” individuals in Russia, where alcohol abuse has been linked to unprotected sex. Participants were assigned either to the country’s standard drug-use treatment—which doesn’t include sexual counseling—or to the experimental Russian Partnership to Reduce the Epidemic Via Engagement in Narcology Treatment (PREVENT), which involves getting an HIV test, engaging in post-test counseling, discussing transmission risk and creating a plan for personal change. Researchers found that after six months, PREVENT participants had a higher percentage of protected sex than those enrolled in standard treatment.

“Both control and intervention groups had improvements in the percentage of safe[r]-sex occurrences, restraining from unprotected sex and increasing condom use between baseline and the three month follow-up,” said the study’s lead author, Jeffrey Samet, MD. While members of the intervention group maintained or improved their safe[r]-sex behaviors at the six-month follow-up, the standard addiction treatment group worsened, according to Dr. Samet.

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