FRANKFORT, Ky. (November 30, 2004) -- World AIDS Day will be commemorated around the globe on Wednesday, December 1, celebrating progress made battling the epidemic and bringing into focus remaining challenges. The 2004 theme is "Women, Girls, and HIV and AIDS."
Now in its 17th year, World AIDS Day is an opportunity to highlight the ways in which HIV affects different groups of people. Information about AIDS in Kentucky is available through 2002. In 2001, for the first time since 1995, an increase was observed in the AIDS incidence rate and has continued to increase in 2002. Diagnosed AIDS cases among females in Kentucky increased 48 percent from 2001 to 2002. Most women diagnosed in 2002 report heterosexual contact to be their mode of exposure.
Among Kentuckians aged 25-44, AIDS ranked as the fifth leading cause of death among African American females and eleventh among white females, which is up from fourteenth for white females within this age group in 2001.
With infection rates on the rise, it is important for everyone to be aware of the risk factors associated with HIV infection. HIV is transmitted through body fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. You can get HIV in four ways:
· unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner (the most common);
· sharing needles or other contaminated injection or skin-piercing equipment;
· blood and blood products through, for example, infected transfusions and organ or tissue transplants;
· transmission from infected mother to child in the womb or at birth and breastfeeding.
Dr. Kraig E. Humbaugh, state epidemiologist at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said,"HIV is not transmitted by casual physical contact, coughing, sneezing and kissing, by sharing toilet and washing facilities, or by consuming food and beverages handled by someone who has HIV. It is not spread by mosquitoes or other insect bites."
Additionally, blood transfusions and the use of other blood products are generally safe in the U.S., and mother to baby transmission can be prevented by proper treatment and care.
DPH encourages everyone to know their HIV status. Testing and counseling for early diagnosis of HIV infection are recommended for the following people:
· People who consider themselves at risk for infection
· People who have had unprotected sex
· Pregnant women
· Women who plan to become pregnant
· Women of childbearing age who are at risk of infection
· People who have sexually transmitted diseases or who have been sexually abused
· Spouses, sex partners, and needle-sharing partners of injecting drug users
· Tuberculosis patients
· Patients who received blood transfusions between early 1978 and mid-1985
Knowing your HIV status has two important benefits. First, if you know you are HIV infected, you can be assessed for treatment even before symptoms appear. Second, if you know you are infected, you can take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of HIV to others. Free anonymous or confidential HIV testing is available at all local health departments in Kentucky.
To find out more about World AIDS Day activities in your area, check your local listings or visit <http://www.omhrc.gov/hivaidsobservances/wad/events_calendar.html#KY>.
For more information about HIV/AIDS, call DPH’s HIV/AIDS Branch at (502)564-6539.