Religiosity, denominational affiliation and sexual behaviors among people with HIV in the United States

J Sex Res. 2007 Feb;44(1):49-58. doi: 10.1080/00224490709336792.


This study sought to describe religiosity and denominational affiliation among the U.S. population living with HIV and to test whether either is associated with HIV-related sexual risk behaviors. A nationally representative sample of 1,421 people in care for HIV, 932 of whom reported recent sexual activity, was utilized. Religiosity was associated with fewer sexual partners and a lower likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex and in high-risk sex. Catholics were less likely to report unprotected sex than were other Christians, adherents of non-Christian religions, and those reporting no religious affiliation. Catholics were also less likely than other Christians to report high-risk sex and reported fewer sexual partners compared to those of non-Christian religions. We did not observe a difference between Catholics and Evangelicals in the three sexual behaviors investigated. Results suggest that religiosity and some religious teachings may promote safer sex among people with HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Religion and Sex*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex