Prevalence of sexual and drug-related HIV risk behaviors in the U.S. adult population: Results of the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

John E. Anderson, Ronald W. Wilson, Peggy Barker, Lynda Doll, T. Stephen Jones, David Holtgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Context: Data on the prevalence of HIV risk behavior that are representative of the general population are needed to help evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs. Objective: To use data from a large national interview survey to make estimates of the prevalence of sexual and drug-related HIV risk behaviors in the adult population of the United States. Design: Nationally representative cross-sectional survey with in-person interviews collecting information on drug use and sexual behavior. Setting and Participants: 12,381 U.S. adults aged between 18 and 59 who were respondents to the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, as part of sample of the noninstitutionalized population. Interviews took place in respondents homes using face-to-face interviewer-administered and self- administered questionnaires. Results: In total, 2.8% of respondents were classified as having increased risk for HIV through sexual behavior; this represents 3.9 million persons. 1.7% reported some degree of risk through drug-related behaviors, representing 1.2 million persons. 3.5% of adults (5 million persons) were found to have some degree of HIV risk from sexual or drug-related behavior. Persons who were at risk through drug behavior were much more likely than others to be at risk through sexual behavior. Condom use was not related to HIV risk, although having a recent HIV test was found to be. Among those who reported some behaviors that placed them at increased risk for HIV infection, only 22% used a condom the last time they had sex with a regular partner. Conclusions: The high rate of sexual risk behavior on the part of drug users suggests increasing condom use for this group should be a priority goal for programs, especially condom use with main partners. Survey work needs to be continued and improved to make it possible to assess the impact of successful local prevention efforts on national rates of HIV risk behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-156
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999


  • Drug abuse
  • HIV risk behaviors
  • Sexual transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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