Heterosexual AIDS Epidemic Unlikely, Survey of Sexual Behavior Suggests

Risks for sexually transmitted diseases - a pilot study

From 1991 to 1993, researchers at the University of Chicago Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies carried out a national survey of sexual behavior in adults, part of a major effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Key Findings

  • The survey found that the vast majority of Americans have very few sexual partners, and those they do have are of their own race, education level, and socioeconomic class.

  • The researchers state that their data "on sexual networks and sexual behavior argue strongly that these sporadic aborted breakouts of the AIDS virus into the general population are the exception, not the rule.... AIDS is, and is likely to remain, confined to exactly the risk groups where it began: gay men and intravenous drug users and their sexual partners. We are convinced that there is not and very unlikely ever will be a heterosexual AIDS epidemic in this country."

The products of this grant have received wide dissemination, with two major books already released, Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Little Brown; Warner Books [paperback]) and The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (University of Chicago Press).