MONDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- A program promoting
exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits that can help prevent
chronic disease proved effective for black American couples in
which one partner has HIV and the other does not, a new study
Researchers divided 535 such couples -- known in medical
language as HIV-serodiscordant couples -- into two groups. Two
hundred and sixty couples participated in an intervention to reduce
the risk of transmitting and getting HIV and sexually transmitted
diseases, and 275 couples took part in a program to reduce the risk
of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes and
certain cancers through healthy behaviors.
These healthy steps included physical activity, increased fruit
and vegetable consumption and screenings for breast and prostate
Both programs involved eight weekly two-hour sessions. The
couples reported their healthy behaviors at the start of the study,
immediately after they completed the program, and six to 12 months
after the program. The average age of the participants was 43, and
the female was the HIV-positive partner in 60.4 percent of the
The study appears in the April 25 issue of the journal
Archives of Internal Medicine.
"Health promotion intervention participants were more likely to report consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily and adhering to physical activity guidelines compared with HIV/STD intervention participants," wrote Nabila El-Bassel and colleagues from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Multisite HIV/STD Prevention Trial for African-American Couples Group.
"In the health promotion intervention compared with the HIV/STD intervention, participants consumed fatty foods less frequently, more men received prostate cancer screening, and more women received a mammogram. Alcohol use did not differ between the intervention groups," the researchers said in a journal news release.
In 2007, blacks accounted for 48 percent of people in the United
States with HIV. Because medicines, particularly highly active
antiretroviral therapy (HAART), are so effective, many people with
HIV are living longer and are therefore at risk for other chronic
diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
"In conclusion, African Americans are at high risk for morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases and are less likely to report engaging in behaviors associated with reduced risk of such diseases and to detect them at an early stage," the authors wrote.
"Moreover, the risk of chronic disease is of particular concern for African Americans living with HIV because HIV and its treatment with HAART are associated with increased risk," they added.
The study revealed low rates of fruit and vegetable consumption,
physical activity and cancer screening among the participants.
"Accordingly, this study is important, demonstrating that
[intervention] that teaches skills caused positive changes on
multiple behaviors linked to chronic diseases in African American
members" of this group, the researchers wrote.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
living with HIV/AIDS.