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Issue No. 10 | March 9, 2007

News and Features

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10, 2007, marks the second annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day .

Sponsored by the Office of Women's Health, this year's theme is "Taking Action to Save Our Lives."  Women and girls can take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and empower themselves by:

  • Getting tested for HIV and knowing their status.
  • Learning about and using HIV infection prevention methods.
  • Not engaging in high-risk behaviors. 
  • Talking about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.

For more information, visit the AIDSinfo National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day page to access important links and resources related to issues surrounding women and girls and HIV/AIDS. Also, read the statement by the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Risk of HIV Transmission May Be Higher Early in Infection

A study recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases examined the risk of HIV transmission during the initial phase of HIV infection. Researchers analyzed the mutations present in the HIV viruses of recently infected patients; this allowed them to determine the stage of HIV infection of the person who transmitted the virus to each patient in the study. Fewer mutations indicate an earlier stage of infection. The study found that almost half of new infections were transmitted by people who were in the early stages of infection. 

Because people do not exhibit HIV- or AIDS-specific symptoms for years after they have become infected, they may not realize that they are carrying the virus and may continue to engage in high-risk behaviors. During the initial stage of HIV infection, an individual's viral load is particularly high, which may contribute to high transmission rates during this period. 

The researchers concluded that early anti-HIV treatment may reduce the risk of further HIV transmission at this dangerous stage. These findings contradict a previous study that concluded that chronically HIV-infected individuals were responsible for most transmission events.