Perception of HIV and safer sexual behaviors among lesbians

J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. Nov-Dec 2003;14(6):48-55. doi: 10.1177/1055329003255591.


There is little data on female-to-female transmission of HIV. Some women who have sex with women (WSW) have other high-risk behaviors that could lead to HIV infection. The belief that WSW are at no risk may lead to unsafe sexual practices. In this study, a convenience sample of 78 women was surveyed in order to explore the perception of HIV risk among lesbians, their sexual behaviors, and their sources of information about safer sex. Fifty-three percent reported they were at low risk for contracting HIV. Women reported knowledge of barrier methods (89% to 99%) and no sex during menstruation (92%). However, 35% to 40% reported no knowledge of less common safer sex practices. Women reported their source of knowledge as media (36%), workshops (22%), and friends (12%). Eighty-five percent stated that their health care provider knew they were lesbian, but only 15% reported receiving safer sex education. Nurses and nurse practitioners are aptly poised to provide critical HIV education and health care for this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Communication
  • Condoms, Female
  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Friends
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Safe Sex / psychology*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sex Education
  • Sexual Partners
  • Social Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires