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Gift Card Program Latest Effort to Reduce HIV/AIDS Incidence

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Could a $25 gift card given to the right person help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?

According to the Associated Press, U.S. government officials think it's worth trying, to the tune of $1.5 million.

With the latest statistics showing that the majority of HIV cases in the United States still occur among homosexual males, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reviving a 2005 North Carolina program that resulted in encouraging results for more young gay men practicing safe sex (using a condom), the A.P. reports.

According to the wire service, the North Carolina program was relatively simple: CDC officials would go to gay nightclubs and other places where gay men gathered in the Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro areas and find men who were popular, respected and had social standing. These men were given four $25 gift cards along with HIV/AIDS marketing materials and encouraged to promote safe sex among their peers, the wire service said.

This simple experiment had good results, the A.P. said. Surveys of 300 men in the three North Carolina communities found a 32 percent reduction in unprotected sex and a 40 percent reduction in the average number of sexual partners, the wire service reported. The CDC is going to try the program now in about 200 communities over a two year period, the A.P. reported.

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