Cosmopolitan claimed it was impossible to transmit HIV in the missionary position

In 1988, Cosmopolitan released an article saying that women should not worry about contracting HIV from infected men and that “most heterosexuals are not at risk”, claiming it was impossible to transmit HIV in the missionary position.

In its January 1988 issue, Cosmopolitan ran a feature claiming that women had almost no reason to worry about contracting HIV long after the best available medical science indicated otherwise. The piece claimed that unprotected sex with an HIV-positive man did not put women at risk of infection and went on to state that “most heterosexuals are not at risk” and that it was impossible to transmit HIV in the missionary position. This article angered many knowledgeable people, including AIDS and gay rights activists.


Whilst considered a magazine for adult women, Cosmopolitan has been accused of subtly targeting children. Former model Nicole Weider accused the magazine of using slang “which is used by young people not adults” and using (then) underage celebrities, such as Dakota Fanning and Selena Gomez, as well as other celebrities popular with teens such as Ashley Greene and Demi Lovato, in an attempt to gain the attention of underage girls.

Victoria Hearst, a granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst (founder of Cosmopolitan’s parent company) and sister of Patty Hearst, has lent her support to a campaign which seeks to have Cosmopolitan classified as harmful under the guidelines of “Material Harmful to Minors” laws. Hearst, the founder of an evangelical Colorado church called Praise Him Ministries states that “the magazine promotes a lifestyle that can be dangerous to women’s emotional and physical well being. It should never be sold to anyone under 18”. Donald Clark, the secretary of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has also shown interest in the matter.