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On World AIDS Day remember Louisville women get AIDS, too

The lack of local coverage and events commemorating World AIDS Day 2009 could make you believe that no one in Louisville contracts HIV or lives with AIDS, but statistics tell a different story.

An end-of-year report from the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Human Services states that, “As of December 31, 2008, there have been a total of 5,015 AIDS cases reported in Kentucky to the Department for Public Health’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program since 1982. Of these reported cases, 2,707 are still presumed to be living. In 2007, there were 242 new AIDS cases diagnosed.”

How does Louisville fit into the numbers? According to the same report, 1,113 people living in Jefferson County are also living with AIDS. The total number of AIDS cases, among the living and the dead, is 2,131. (Another report puts the cumulative cases of AIDS in Louisville at 2,476 at the end of 2007 and the rate of new AIDS diagnoses that same year at 14.3%.)

The infection rate for people in Louisville seems miniscule when compared to that of Miami, where the rate of new AIDS diagnoses was 33% in 2007, but the ways by which the disease is transmitted – blood transfusions, organ transplants, intravenous drug use, men having sex with men, high-risk heterosexual contact, hemophilia, and perinatal – are the same everywhere. Among women in Kentucky, heterosexual sex is by far the most common transmission category.

Between the years 2005 and 2008, women between the ages of 20 and 39 accounted for 54% of the HIV diagnoses among women living in Kentucky.

Single women who are at least 25 years of age probably haven’t had a long talk about HIV or AIDS since they were teenagers, but the message about unprotected sex hasn’t changed. Other than abstinence, the consistent and correct use of latex condoms is still the most effective method for preventing the spread of HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases between men and women. And in a century in which most men aren’t surprised or appalled if a woman asks them out or pays for the date, he shouldn’t feel awkward about you being prepared with a condom in your purse or with a stash of condoms in your lingerie drawer.

For resources and more information, see the following:
Louisville, KY AIDS Resource Directory
AIDS Services Coalition Center, Inc.
Metro Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness

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