ACOG Issues Guidelines for Care of Women With HIV

27 percent of HIV-positive/AIDS cases in U.S. are women, most in reproductive years

TUESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- In the face of rising numbers of HIV-positive women in the United States, many of them of reproductive age, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued a set of new guidelines to assist Ob-Gyns in delivering optimal care to this population. The guidelines have been published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Women make up 27 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases in the United States, up from only 7 percent in 1985, according to ACOG. The majority of these women acquired the virus through heterosexual contact, and black and Hispanic women are disproportionately affected, the guidelines note. Because most of these women are in their reproductive years, many Ob-Gyns who have not previously seen HIV-positive women in their practices will soon be seeing them. ACOG issued the guidelines to assist practitioners with preventive and ongoing care for these women.

ACOG recommends routine HIV screening for all women aged 19 to 64, with yearly re-testing for women at ongoing risk of HIV infection. All sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) should be aggressively treated to decrease the increased shedding of HIV associated with active STDs. The guidelines also discuss optimal contraceptive methods to prevent transmission of disease and pregnancy, and outline optimal care of both pregnant and menopausal women with HIV.

"Most of the women living with HIV today in the United States are in their prime reproductive years," Hal C. Lawrence, M.D., vice president of practice activities for ACOG, said in a statement. "As the number of women with HIV diagnoses increases, Ob-Gyns will -- if they haven't already -- begin to see more patients who are HIV-positive. These guidelines cover the recommended health screenings, counseling, and routine gynecologic care for these women."

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