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Friday, October 28, 2011

What is the Status of HIV/AIDS Among Women

What is the Status of HIV/AIDS Among Women

HIV infection in women offers uniques challenges for the woman living with HIV and the person caring for her. Unfortunately, in some parts of the world HIV/AIDS among women is growing at an alarming rate. Let's take a look at the HIV statistics related to HIV and women. What is the status of HIV/AIDS among women of the world?

HIV Among Women
In the early years of the HIV epidemic, few women were diagnosed with the disease. Today about 25 percent of all new HIV cases are women. Women of color have been particularly hard hit. As of 2004:

* AIDS was the leading cause of death among black women aged 25 to 34 years old; the third leading cause of death among black women 35 to 44 years old; the fourth leading cause of death among black women 45 to 54 years old.

* AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanic women 35 to 44 years old.

* HIV infection was the fifth leading cause of death among all women 35 to 44 years old; sixth leading cause of death among all women 25 to 44 years old.

* The only diseases that cause greater number of deaths among women are cancer and heart disease.

HIV Statistics - 2005

* Approximately 9700 women were diagnosed with HIV
o 80 percent were from heterosexual transmission

* Approximately 37,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV
o 26 percent of these were women

* There were about 127,000 women living with HIV in 2005
o 64 percent were black
o 19 percent were white
o 15 percent were Hispanic
o one percent were Asian / Pacific Islander
o less than one percent were American Indian / Alaska Native

* The number of women with HIV decreased from almost 12,000 in 2001 to about 9700 in 2005.

AIDS Statistics - 2005

* Of the nearly 41,000 AIDS diagnoses in the US, 26 percent were women.

* The AIDS diagnosis rate for black women was 23 times greater than white women and 4 times the rate of Hispanic women.

* Of the 422,000 people living with AIDS in the US, 23 percent were women.

* 25 percent of all AIDS deaths in the US were women.

* 19 percent of all AIDS cases from 1981 to 2005 were women

* In 1992 women accounted for 19 percent of people living with AIDS. By 2005 that number had grown to 23 percent.

* While black and Hispanic women together represent 24 percent of the US female population, they represent 82 percent of the AIDS diagnoses in 2005.

Center for Disease Control; "HIV/AIDS Among Women"; 1 Jun 2007.

Women Who Have Sex with Women

Women Who Have Sex with Women
What is the HIV Risk?

Female-to-female transmission of HIV appears to be a very rare occurrence. However, case reports of HIV in women who have sex with women (wsw) indicate that vaginal secretions and menstrual blood are potentially infectious and that mucous membrane (e.g., oral, vaginal) exposure to these secretions has the potential to transmit HIV.

What Does Surveillance Say About HIV Transmission Between Women?
Through 2004, almost 250,000 women were living with HIV. Of these, approximately 7400 were reported to have had sex with women; however, the vast majority had other risks (such as injection drug use, sex with high-risk men, or receipt of blood or blood products). Of the 534 women who were reported to have had sex only with women, 91 percent also had another risk.

What Does Follow-up Surveillance Show?
Follow-up surveillance was done on women whose only reported risk was sex with women. As of December 2004, none of these studies could definitely confirm the possibility of female-to-female HIV transmission. In those women studied, other risks were usually identified or women declined to participate in follow-up interviews. In fact, a separate study of more than 1 million female blood donors found no HIV-infected women whose only risk was sex with women. These findings suggest that female-to-female transmission of HIV is uncommon. However uncommon, these results do not rule out the possibility of female-to-female HIV transmission.

What Behaviors Place WSW at Risk of HIV Infection?
Surveys have shown that many wsw have increased rates of high-risk behaviors such as:

* injection drug use
* unprotected vaginal sex with gay/bisexual men who are injection drug users.

What Can WSW do to Reduce Their Risk of HIV?
While the occurence is rare, women who have sex with women need to realize that the risk of HIV transmission is there. These women need to know:

* that exposure of a mucous membrane(of the mouth) to vaginal secretions and menstrual blood is potentially infectious
* that condoms should be used properly each and every time during sexual contact with men or when using sex toys.
* sex toys should not be shared.
* women can use dental dams, cut-open condoms, or plastic wrap to help protect themselves from contact with body fluids during oral sex.
* to reduce their risk of becoming infected women should know their own HIV status as well as their partner's
* for women who are HIV positive knowing their status early improves their prognosis and helps prevent infecting others.

To accurately assess a women's HIV risk, health professionals also need to remember:

* that sexual identity does not necessarily predict behavior, and that women who identify as lesbian may be at risk for HIV through unprotected sex with men.
* that prevention interventions targeting wsw must address behaviors (injecting drugs and unprotected sex) that put wsw at risk for HIV infection.

Source: Centers for Disease Control, "HIV/AIDS Among Women Who Have Sex With Women"; 1 Jun 2006.