AIDS and behavioral change to reduce risk: A review

M. H. Becker, Jill G Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

507 Scopus citations


Published reports describing behavioral changes in response to the threat of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) are reviewed. These studies demonstrate rapid, profound, but expectably incomplete alterations in the behavior of both homosexual/bisexual males and intravenous drug users. This is true in the highest risk metropolitan areas such as New York City and in areas with lower AIDS incidence. Risk reduction is occurring more frequently though the modification of sexual or drug-use behavior than through its elimination. In contrast to aggregate data, longitudinal descriptions of individual behavior demonstrate considerable instability or recidivism. Behavioral change in the potentially vulnerable heterosexual adolescent and young adult populations is less common, as is risk reduction among urban minorities. Reports of AIDS-related knowledge and attitudes generally parallel the pattern of behavioral changes. Nonetheless, few studies investigate the relationship of knowledge and attitudes to risk reduction. Future studies should provide much-needed information about the determinants as well as the magnitude of behavioral changes required to reduce the further spread of AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-410
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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