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African-American and Hispanic Women at High Risk of HIV

August 21, 2012

Washington, DC -- HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect women of color in the US, particularly African-Americans and Hispanics, according to a Committee Opinion issued today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College). All women should be screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but physicians and their patients must be aware that women of color have the highest risk of contracting this disease.

Currently, an estimated 1 in 32 black women and 1 in 106 Hispanic women in the US will acquire HIV in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 562 white women. The majority of these women contract HIV from heterosexual contact. Ob-gyns and other health care providers should encourage patients to practice safe sex, especially condom use.

The College recommends routine HIV screening for women ages 19–64 and targeted screening for women with risk factors outside of that age group, such as sexually active women younger than 19. Opt-out HIV screening—in which patients are notified that HIV testing will be a routine part of their gynecologic and obstetric care unless they decline testing—should be performed.

Physicians should also identify resources in their communities for training of office staff in HIV risk-reduction interventions for minority women or for patient referral to these programs. A combination of testing, education, and behavioral interventions can help reduce the rate of HIV infection and its effects on black and Hispanic women.

Committee Opinion #536 “Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and Women of Color” is published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org

 

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