Clinical Care Issues for Women Living with HIV and AIDS in the United States
AbstractAs the number of women infected with HIV in the United States continues to increase, the medical community is faced with the challenge of providing adequate and appropriate care to them. This paper reviews key questions concerning the state of knowledge on the epidemiology, biology, and clinical care of women living with HIV and AIDS in the United States. Because heterosexual transmission accounts for a growing number of cases among women, biological factors and cofactors that may enhance women's susceptibility to HIV infection are also reviewed. HIV-related gynecological issues are presented separately to evaluate whether gynecological complications are distinct in HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected women. Questions of whether there are sex-specific differences in the efficacy and adverse effects of new antiviral agents are discussed. In addition, significant gaps are highlighted that still exist in our understanding of both the effects of HIV and HIV-related drugs upon pregnancy. Finally, the psychiatric stresses and complications that affect women living with HIV and AIDS are also discussed. In each section of this review, gaps in our knowledge of these issues are identified. To properly address these disparities in knowledge, not only do efforts to gather sex-specific biomedical data need to be more exacting, but there is a distinct need to conduct more sex-specific research concerning HIV.