Understanding the Issues of Women and HIV/AIDS Rachel Seldin, Colgate University, Hamilton NY 13346 ABTRACT: Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) had emerged as a major health problem for women in the United States. Family physicians can play an important role in the detection and care of HIV-infected women. The epidemiology and natural history of HIV infection in women were reviewed. HIV infection is now a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among young women in the United States, particularly women of racial and ethnic minorities. Most cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in women occur as a result of injection-drug use or heterosexual transmission. Based on limited information, women and men appear to have similar AIDS-defining conditions. Gynecological problems are common n HIV-infected women. Pregnancy does not seem to be affected by early HIV infection, but women with advanced disease might be at increased risk for obstetric complications. More women need to be included in natural history studies and clinical drug trials. Early awareness of HIV infection and better access to health care services are required to improve the treatment and survival of HIV-infected women. KEYWORDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Pregnancy, Zidovudine (AZT), Vaginal Candidasis, Transmission Methods of HIV/AIDS, Perinatal Transmission, Women and HIV INTRODUCTION: “Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has been declared the public health threat of the century ” (1 cited in 2). The US Surgeon General has designated it as the nations number one health priority (2). AIDS is a disease that affects the immune system. The term immunodeficiency refers to the inability of the immune system to function properly, thus making the individual susceptible to a variety of infections not typically found in a healthy immune system (3). …
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