HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, is an infection that over time leads to the development of AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The virus destroys the cells of the immune system eventually leading to a weakened immune system that easily succumbs to other infections and disease. Those infected with HIV may generally appear healthy and asymptomatic until the infection develops into AIDS. People get infected with the virus through contact with infected body fluids. Women generally acquire HIV through sexual contact with infected individuals or intravenous drug use. Pregnant women with HIV can infect their babies during pregnancy, at birth and through breast feeding. Treatment can be used to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS to the baby.
Through October 31, 2006, there were 156 female HIV positive cases reported, which accounts for 18% of the HIV positive infections in Utah. The total AIDS cases, those who have progressed to AIDS based on low CD4 counts, among Utah females reported to date is 238, which accounts for 10% of the AIDS cases in Utah. Both HIV positive infections and AIDS cases for Utah women are below the nationwide trends which are 29% of HIV infections nationwide are women; and 18% of AIDS cases nationwide are women .
Of the HIV/AIDS cases among women in Utah, the mode of transmission has shifted from intravenous drug use to heterosexual contact. In 1996, 39.6% of the HIV/AIDS cases were transmitted through heterosexual contact; and through 2006 transmission of HIV/AIDS through heterosexual contact rose to 42% of cases among Utah women. (See Fig. 2) There also has been an increase of women not specifying the mode of transmission from 4.3% of cases through 1996 to 15% of cases through 2006 .
Abstaining from sexual activities and illicit drug use are the best prevention measures. To prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS, those at risk should always use a condom, never share needles, and get tested. Other prevention measures are having monogamous sexual relationships and getting tested if you have had unprotected sex with previous partners.
Many of the County Health Departments throughout Utah as well as other organizations offer HIV counseling and testing. For more information, please visit the Utah Department of Health HIV counseling and testing site at health.utah.gov/cdc/hiv_testing.htm or call the Utah Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at 801-538-6096. Free testing is available through the Utah AIDS Foundation: 801-487-2323 and the Harm Reduction Project: 801-355-0234.
- Utah Department of Health: HIV/AIDS Reporting for Utah and United States. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/cdc/hivsurveillance/sp%20docs/utahusa%20123106.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2007. Search Keywords: HIV/AIDS reporting 123106.
- Utah Department of Health: HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report for Women Utah 2006. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/cdc/hivsurveillance/sp%20docs/2006WomenEpiReport.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2007.
- Utah Department of Health: 2004 HIV/AIDS Epidemiological Profile. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/cdc/hivsurveillance/sp%20docs/2004%20Epi%20final.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2006. Search Keywords: HIV/AIDS 2004 Profile and Utah Department of Health: 2005 HIV/AIDS Epidemiological Profile Update. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/ cdc/hivsurveillance/sp%20docs/2005EpiUpdate.pdf. Accessed December 14, 2006. Search Keywords: HIV/AIDS 2005
- Data for 1983-2006 obtained from Women’s Health in Utah 1996. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/opha/publications/other/wmnhlth/section4.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2007. Search Keywords: HIV/AIDS.
- Utah Department of Health: 2006 Utah HIV/AIDS Year-End Surveillence. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/cdc/hivsurveillance/sp%20docs/2006yearendstats.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2007. Search Keywords: HIV/AIDS year end report 2006.