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UTAH AIDS RATE MAY BE LINKED TO SPARSITY OF HIGH-RISK GROUPS

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A total of 224 cases of AIDS have been reported in Utah since 1983, but a state health official said the Beehive State still has fewer patients per capita than most other states.

While the Utah Department of Health recorded 4.7 cases per 100,000 population during the past 12 months, the District of Columbia has had 89.5 cases per 100,000."We will continue to have cases, but our rate and the number of cases are not increasing as fast as the national average," said state epidemiologist Craig Nichols.

The reason? "We don't have as many high-risk groups in the state, and many people are convinced of the risk and are changing their behaviors," Nichols said.

Of the Utah victims, 139 have died. Nationally, 105,990 AIDS cases were reported between 1983 and August 1989, with 61,655 deaths.

Statistics compiled by the State Health Department's Bureau of Epidemiology indicate that the disease's victims are predominantly white homosexual or bisexual males age 30-39.

Ninety-two percent of all Utah AIDS victims are male and 8 percent female.

The report, issued this week, showed that 148 of the 224 cases, 68 percent, involved homosexual or bisexual males, while 36 cases, 16 percent, involved intravenous drug abusers.

Four cases of AIDS were reported as contracted by heterosexual contact. Nichols said those victims contracted the disease either through sexual intercourse with infected individuals or came from countries (in Africa or the Caribbean) where heterosexual transmission is a major risk factor.

The report revealed 12 cases among homosexual males who were also IV drug abusers; eight involving patients with hemophilia or a blood coagulation disorder; eight due to transfusions or blood-component reasons; and three cases of other risk category (health-care worker exposed to blood) or undetermined transmission.

Nichols said these are people who are under investigation, who haven't revealed any risk factors or who died before being interviewed.

Of the total 224 cases, five involved children age 13 or younger and three involved youths age 14-19, the health report showed.

Among the younger children, the leading cause of transmission was a parent with AIDS, primarily an infected mother who transmitted the disease to her fetus or infant during the perinatal period.

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(Additional information)

AIDS cases

Cases of AIDS per 100,000 population during past 12 months:

Washington, D.C. 89.5

New York 34.5

New Jersey 27.8

Florida 25.1

California 20.8

Nevada 15.2

Utah 4.7

Wyoming 2.9

Idaho 2.0

United States 13.0