Pennsylvania: The State of AIDS in Lancaster
July 1, 2010
About 90 minutes west of Philadelphia, Lancaster is confronting an HIV epidemic that defies national trends. About 80 percent of the more than 500 HIV patients seen at the Lancaster General Comprehensive Care Center are heterosexuals who likely contracted the disease through high-risk sexual contact or IV drug use, say health care providers there. By comparison, in 2006, 43 percent of new HIV infections nationwide were among heterosexuals and IV drug users who were not gay men, according to CDC.
Clinic providers are particularly concerned about the prevalence of HIV among women. Locally, the epidemic is increasing most rapidly among middle-age, heterosexual women, according to Lyn Mohn, program director at Comprehensive Care.
"Many women who find themselves single again later in life are not protecting themselves against diseases," Mohn said. "They think the risk of pregnancy has passed, but don't consider the other risks."
One of the center's patients, a 41-year-old woman who contracted the disease about 12 years ago, was stunned to learn of her HIV diagnosis.
"It took a long time for me to date," she said. "It was about five years and even then it was hard to have a physical relationship. Not every man wants to take something like that on."
Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster)
06.01.2010; Claudia W. Esbenshade
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