Sexual Relapse

V1, N1, January 1991

Test Yourself

  1. True or False: Relapse into unsafe sexual practices can be eliminated if an individual is willing to commit to avoid unsafe sex. [answer]
  2. Most unsafe sex is attributed to individuals who a) never adopted safer sex practices, b) have relapsed into unsafe sex after having practiced safer sex, c) believe all activities are safe, d) none of the above. [answer]
  3. True or False: Many researchers say that unsafe sex can best be eliminate from an individual's behavior by viewing it as a short-term change. [answer]
  4. One study showed that rates of relapse are highest in San Francisco among a) older men, b) younger men, c) well-educated men, d) long-time residents of the city. [answer]
  5. Alcohol use often leads individuals to practice unsafe sex because alcohol can a) impair motor coordination and make condom application more difficult, b) deter judgment, c) create feelings that risk-taking is acceptable, d) all of the above. [answer]
  6. True or False: Relapse is often attributed to emotional factors. [answer]
  7. True of False: STD infection among gay men is decreasing. [answer]
  8. What percentage of participants in a San Francisco survey committed to avoid unsafe sex, but broke this commitment and engaged in unsafe sex? a) 75%, b) 4%, c) 16%, d) 50%. [answer]

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think relapse is a problem among the clients you've been seeing for HIV antibody testing? Why or why not.
  • What would your strategy be if you were working with a client who reported recent slips into unsafe behavior? What information would you need to gather? What suggestions and general counseling would you offer?
  • What are some possible referrals that might help the client reporting relapse?
  • Do you think a discussion of relapse should be a standard part of antibody test counseling? Why or why not? If so, when would you have this discussion? In the pre-test session? In the post-test session?
  • Are there clients for whom the issue of relapse is not relevant? If so, who would they be?

Answers to "Test Yourself"

  1. False. Vows to eliminate unsafe sex can be broken by many factors, including use of alcohol and other drugs, low self-esteem or self-assertion, depression, stress or falling in love.
  2. B. Researchers estimate that in San Francisco as much as 75% of all unsafe sex could be attributed to relapse, with only 25% of those performing unsafe sex having always practiced unsafe sex.
  3. False. To eradicate unsafe sex, individuals must view it as a permanent behavior change. The tendency to view it as a short- term change makes an individual more susceptible to relapse.
  4. B. Younger men are most likely to relapse into unsafe sex.
  5. D. Alcohol can have all of these effects.
  6. True. Individuals often cite emotions of being "in love", an "overwhelming sexual desire" or stress as reasons for relapsing into unsafe sex.
  7. False. Rates of STD infection among gay men are increasing in many parts of the country, and a report in the Seattle, Wash., area showed a dramatic increase in the cases of gonorrhea for 1989.
  8. C. 16% of the individuals who made a commitment to avoid unsafe sex had broken this commitment.

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