County leads state in HIV mortality rate<BR>

Mortality from HIV (human immuno-deficiency virus) in Mohave County was the highest rate in the state in 1998.

According to statistics supplied by the Arizona Department of Health Services, the statewide death rate from HIV infection in 1998 was 3 people per 100,000 population.

There were 143 deaths recorded statewide with 89 of those in Maricopa County.

Mohave County had 7 deaths from HIV infection.

But when county populations were factored into the figures, it meant there were 6.8 deaths per 100,000 (age-adjusted) population in Mohave County, twice the state average.

Maricopa County was right at average with three deaths per 100,000 people, and ranked third in the state averages.

"Look at the numbers for HIV and consider that Mohave County is no longer included within figures for Arizona and hasn't been for the last three years," said Patty Mead, director of the Mohave County Department of Health & Social Services.

"Clark County (Nev.) has put us in their numbers, so our federal funding comes through Clark County.

"That has allowed us to have additional resources for clients with HIV and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)," she said.

"It may account for our higher rate of death from HIV in that people are coming here for services."

The Mohave County Department of Health & Social Services has different programs for HIV and AIDS patients, Mead said.

Funds for housing, treatment and prescriptions are included in those programs.

HIV is a sexually transmitted and blood-borne virus, Mead said.

However, being diagnosed with HIV no longer means the quick death it once did, according to Dr.

Ilan Govan.

"HIV is not a terminal disease, but more of a chronic disease," Dr.

Govan said.

"People diagnosed with it now can live 10 to 15 years by taking medications."

Dr.

Govan, who has practiced in Kingman for over two years, said part of his medical training included working with HIV patients for two months at New York's Montfiori Medical Center.

He said the facility is highly regarded for treating HIV patients, and he did a three-year residency at the center.

Intravenous drug users are most susceptible to contracting HIV, Dr.

Govan said.

He said homosexual contact and some heterosexuals can also get the virus.

Pima County ranked second in Arizona two years ago in HIV mortality with 3.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

There were 31 deaths in Pima from HIV infection.

Five counties - Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz and Santa Cruz - reported no deaths from HIV in 1998.

Dr.

Christopher Mrela, manager of vital statistics with the Arizona Department of Health Services, said Mohave was the only county in the state above the national average of 4.6 deaths per 100,000 population two years ago from HIV infection.

But he could offer no possible explanation as to why.