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The influence of executive functions, sensation seeking, and HIV serostatus on the risky sexual practices of substance-dependent individuals



From a public health standpoint, identifying factors that contribute to risky sexual practices among substance-dependent individuals is critical, particularly in the context of HIV infection. This study examines the respective contributions of executive neurocognitive functions, sensation seeking, and HIV serostatus in predicting risky sexual practices among poly-substance users (with a history of dependence primarily for cocaine or cocaine/heroin). HIV+ (n = 109) and HIV− (n = 154) substance-dependent individuals were assessed using three neurocognitive tasks of executive functions: Stroop reaction time, delayed non-matching to sample, and the Iowa Gambling Task. Sensation seeking was assessed using the Sensation Seeking Scale–V. Greater sensation seeking was associated with more risky sexual practices among HIV+ participants, particularly among those who performed best on the Iowa Gambling Task. Our findings indicate that continued risk behavior among HIV+ drug users may be driven by sensation seeking (a personality trait common among drug users); however, the impact of executive functions is less clear. (JINS, 2005, 11, 121–131.)


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Raul Gonzalez, Ph.D., University of Illinois—Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, M/C 912, 1601 W. Taylor Street, Room 408, Chicago, IL 60612. Email:


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The influence of executive functions, sensation seeking, and HIV serostatus on the risky sexual practices of substance-dependent individuals



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