To the Editor: In their article on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Zimbabwean adolescents, Gavin and colleagues do not specifically consider blood exposures to explain HIV infection in virgins  . They recruited a nationally representative sample of girls aged 15–19 years; 90% agreed to be tested. Strikingly, 41% of 192 HIV-positive girls reported no sexual exposure.</P>The authors suspect the infected virgins lied. This suspicion is not based on empiric evidence such as physical or laboratory examination, nor psychometric measures of response validity. We are not aware of evidence that underreporting of sexual experience in Africa is positively related to HIV infection, and false positive tests likely predominated in previous studies comparing self-reports and markers of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy in African youth [2–4] . The authors venture that HIV might have been vertically transmitted, though they undermine their speculation, observing that “it is unlikely that many perinatally infected infants in Zimbabwe would survive for 15–19 years”  .</P>The authors’ seemingly anomalous finding is consonant with considerable evidence from 12 African countries that remarkable proportions of virgins are HIV-infected [3,5,6] . Recent data from the Demographic and Health Survey national probability samples in Kenya, Lesotho, and
Journal of Adolescent Health – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2007
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