HIV-positive people who are religious tend to have fewer sexual partners and engage in risky sexual behaviour less often than other people with HIV, the virus that causes Aids. This means that HIV-positive people with stronger religious ties are less likely to spread the virus, says a study released Tuesday by the RAND Corporation.
The finding may help in efforts to reduce HIV infection rates.
The study did not examine specific factors of religiosity that may affect the sexual activity of HIV-positive people. But moral beliefs and membership in a faith community may be two important components, suggested principal investigator and RAND senior behaviour scientist David Kanouse.
An underlying altruism
"Moral beliefs may indicate an underlying altruism and a desire to make sure no one else is infected with HIV. Promoting these feelings could then be used as a component of HIV prevention programmes," Kanouse said in a prepared statement.
"The study suggests that there's a role for religious institutions to play in the fight against the spread of HIV," study lead author Frank H. Galvan, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and human behaviour at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, said in a prepared statement.
"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," Galvan said.
The study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Sex Research. – (HealthDayNews)
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