Sexually-transmitted disease risk in a Micronesian atoll population

A A Brewis
Health Transition Review: the Cultural, Social, and Behavioural Determinants of Health 1992, 2 (2): 195-213
The potential health threat of AIDS to the native island-based populations in the Pacific is now widely appreciated by those working in the public-health sector throughout the region. Although several countries in the region are yet to identify any cases of AIDS or HIV seropositivity, there is reason to suspect that heterosexual contact may emerge as a predominant mode of spread of HIV infection into native Pacific island populations. Sexual networks and their relationship to potentially 'risky behaviours' are described for a single native Micronesian atoll community on the basis of ethnographic observation and interviewing. This description is combined with the investigation of historic-demographic dimensions of the epidemiology of sexually-transmitted diseases in the same population to draw some conclusions about the opportunities for HIV transmission and acquisition among the sexually-active portions of this community. Although sexually-transmitted diseases have not had an appreciable epidemiological or demographic impact on the population in the past, the sexual networks within the community and beyond provide ample opportunity for the introduction and spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and its sequel AIDS.

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