The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.

Women and HIV

August/September 2001

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

HIV Levels Differ By Gender: Disparity Detected In Early Stages of Infection Later Disappears, According to Recent Study

Johns Hopkins University researchers have found that women with a recent HIV diagnosis have much less virus in their blood than men at the same stage of infection, although that difference later disappears.

The study of 156 male and 46 female injection drug users (IDUs) found that men with a recent HIV infection had an average of 50,766 particles per milliliter. Women with a recent HIV diagnosis averaged 15,103. for the New England Journal of Medicine, treatment guidelines recommended initiating treatment when HIV levels reached 20,000 particles per milliliter of blood plasma. Guidelines issues earlier this year advise postponing antiviral therapy until there are 55,000 particles per milliliter.

Personality Has Effect On AIDS

Scientists now say that an HIV patient's personality can affect the speed at which the infection progresses to AIDS.

Researcher Margaret Kemeny of UCLA reports that behavioral evidence of the disease is indicative of the need for stress and support groups as part of standard treatment therapies. Study leader Jane Leserman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also reports that the effects of high levels of stress, anger, depression and higher than average blood pressure will also serve to accelerate HIV.

Other studies indicate that when patients with hostile personalities confront illness or distressing events, their level of general dissatisfaction increases and their immune systems weaken more quickly.

Depression and Disease Progression Among HIV+ Women

Researchers for the HIV Epidemiology Research Study studied 765 HIV-positive women between the ages of 16 and 55 to determine the association of depressive symptoms with HIV-related mortality and decline in CD4 cell counts.

Controlling the study for clinical pathology, substance use, and sociological factors, the authors found that depression among HIV-infected women is associated with disease progression. The findings, they note, reinforce the need for diagnosis and treatment of depression among HIV-positive women.

Assertive Girls More Likely to Insist On Condoms

Researchers from the CDC and Emory University in Atlanta recently reported that consistent condom use may rely on how assertive a girl is and how well she can negotiate.

The authors studied more than 500 sexually active African-American females between the ages of 14 and 18 and reported at the National STD Prevention Conference in Milwaukee that girls who had little or no fear of negative reactions from their partners were more than two times as likely to use the prophylactics consistently. In addition, compared to girls with older partners, those with partners of similar age were also more likely to use condoms regularly.

Elective Caesarean Delivery vs. Vaginal Birth for HIV+ Women

A University of Cincinnati Medical Center team evaluated the cost-effectiveness of Caesarean delivery for HIV-infected women during pregnancy.

Comparing elective Caesarean section and vaginal delivery, researchers used the HIV transmission rate, maternal death rate, and quality of life as factors during the study. The results showed that elective Caesarean section led to an HIV transmission rate of 34.9 per 1,000 births, compared to 62.3 per 1,000 vaginal deliveries.

The elective C-section was more cost effective, but it also had increased risk of maternal mortality by 2.4 deaths per 100,000 deliveries. Overall, the researchers concluded that "in pregnant women with detectable HIV RNA, elective Caesarean section would reduce total costs and increase overall quality-adjusted life expectancy for the mother-child pair, albeit at a slight loss of quality-adjusted life expectancy to the mother."

Teens Unaware of Cervical Cancer Virus Risks

A study conducted at Duke University Medical Center shows that high school students know little about human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cervical cancer.

Rebecca Solomon   Rebecca Solomon is a Case Manager at AIDS Project Los Angeles. She can be reached by calling (213) 201-1436 or by e-mail at

Back to the August/September 2001 issue of Positive Living.

This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

See Also
More on HIV Treatment and Women


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our advertising policy.

See Also
11 Sexy Campaigns That Spread the Word -- and the Love -- on PrEP
What's in Store for HIV Prevention in the Future?
HIV Tools You Can Use