HIV Rates Increasing in Salt Lake County, Utah, According to State Officials
HIV rates have been steadily increasing over the last three years in Salt Lake County, which includes Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, according to the Salt Lake Valley Health Department, the Deseret News reports. Health officials contend that lack of awareness of HIV, personal concern about becoming infected and sexual health discussions -- especially among young adults -- are driving the increase. Preliminary data indicate that the trend will continue in 2009, according to health officials. Stan Penfold, the executive director of the Utah AIDS Foundation, said, "Rates grow because there is a lack of conversation around HIV and what the risk factors are. It is really easy to compartmentalize because of the stigma associated with HIV, but the average age of infection is getting younger and younger," he said. Lynn Beltran, STD and HIV program manager for the Salt Lake County Health Department, noted that sex education in high schools also is a concern, but added, "Everyone needs to educate themselves and understand how to make healthy decisions about sex" (Norlen, Deseret News, 6/28).