Madeddu, Giordano and Calia, Giovanna Maria and Lovigu, Carla and Mannazzu, Marco and Maida, Ivana Rita and Babudieri, Sergio and Campus, Maria Licinia and Rezza, Giovanni and Mura, Maria Stella Anna (2007) The Changing face of the HIV epidemic in northern Sardinia: increased diagnoses among pregnant women. Infection, Vol. 35 (1), p. 19-21. eISSN 1439-0973. Article.
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Background: Combination antiretroviral therapy has reduced both HIV/AIDS related morbidity and mortality. However, while the number of new AIDS diagnosis progressively declined in Europe from 1997 to 2004, new HIV infection diagnoses showed an increase since 1998. Unfortunately, there is no national HIV reporting system in Italy, and no information is available from the South and the islands. Methods: Data on new HIV infections diagnosed in northern Sardinia between 1997 and 2004 were retrospectively collected. Thus, two four years periods (1997–2000 vs 2001–2004) were compared in order to assess changes in the characteristics of newly diagnosed individuals. Results: Overall, 156 new HIV infection diagnoses occurred during the study period, 87 (55.8%) in males and 69 (44.2%) in females. The incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants showed a progressive decline from 1997 (5.9) to 2001 (3.3), followed by a rapid increase in 2002 (5.0) and a new decline in 2004 (3.5). Median age progressively increased over the study period, from 33 years in 1997 to 38 in 2004. Males (55.8%) were more frequently affected than females (44.2%), who showed a trend toward a slight but progressive proportional increase. With regard to the exposure category, 95 (60.9%) individuals were heterosexual contacts, 38 (24.4%) injection drug users (IDU), 17 (10.9%) homosexual men, and 6 (3.8%) not determined (ND). There was a proportional increase for homosexual men (+7.5%) and heterosexual contacts (–7.9%), while IDU showed a slight decrease ( 2.7%). Heterosexual intercourse was the main exposure category both for women (78%) and men (47.1%), but man-to-man sex increased in the last study period. IDU still accounted for 20.3% and 27.5% of the cases among women and men, respectively. An increase in the proportion of new diagnoses in pregnant women, from 8.6% to 20.6%, was also observed. All pregnant women diagnosed in the first four years period were Italian, whereas 4 of the 7 (57.1%) women diagnosed thereafter were foreigner. Finally, the proportion of new HIV diagnoses in foreigners showed a marked increase, from 2.4% to 17.6%; of them 71.4% originated from sub-Saharan Africa. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the HIV epidemic is far from being controlled in our Region. Prevention campaigns targeted to homosexual men, women and migrants are needed. Non-HIV specialists, such as gynaecologists and obstetricians, as well as general practitioners, should routinely offer HIV testing to pregnant women.
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