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Current Trends AIDS in Women -- United States

In the United States, the number of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases reported in women has been steadily increasing. In addition, AIDS cases in women account for an increasing proportion of all AIDS cases in the United States. By the end of 1990, reports to CDC of AIDS cases among women will exceed 15,000. From November 1989 through October 1990, women accounted for 11% of all reported cases in adults; from 1988 to 1989, diagnosed cases increased by 29% in women, compared with 18% in men. By 1987, AIDS was the eighth leading cause of death in women aged 15-44 years; based on current trends, AIDS will be among the five leading causes of death in this population in 1991 (1).

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection disproportionately affects women in racial/ethnic minority groups. Although black and Hispanic women constitute 19% of all U.S. women, they represent 72% of all U.S. women diagnosed with AIDS. In 1988, the death rate from HIV infection was nine times higher for black than for white women (1). These disproportionate rates largely reflect the occurrence of HIV infection among injecting drug users and their sex partners.

Although all states have reported AIDS in women, annual rates for states vary markedly. From November 1989 through October 1990, 4.3 cases were reported per 100,000 women in the United States. Five areas (the District of Columbia, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico) reported greater than 10 cases per 100,000 women.

Among all cases of AIDS in women, 85% occurred among women of childbearing age (15-44 years). Approximately one fourth of these women were 20-29 years of age at the time of diagnosis; many were probably infected as teenagers. Reported By: Div of HIV/AIDS, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Many women in the United States are unaware they are at risk for HIV infection, and HIV-infected women often remain undiagnosed until the onset of AIDS or until a perinatally infected child becomes ill. Many women with HIV infection are of lower socioeconomic status; therefore, prevention efforts, health care, and social services--including those for drug treatment--rely on public resources.

During 1991, in collaboration with state and local health agencies, CDC will continue to strengthen programs to prevent HIV transmission in women. These programs will 1) further define the risk factors for transmission and the natural history of disease in HIV-infected women; 2) study factors that facilitate or inhibit condom use and incorporate study findings into HIV-prevention strategies; 3) continue to assess women's knowledge of their HIV-risk status and its role in the use of health services; and 4) expand targeted HIV-intervention activities at selected sites. In addition, CDC will continue to collaborate with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, other international agencies, and other countries to better understand and prevent HIV infection worldwide.

These efforts will assist in decreasing the occurrence of HIV infection and AIDS among women and increase the number of women who receive HIV-prevention services, early counseling and HIV detection, and referral to medical and support services. Prevention of HIV infection in women is critical for the control of the HIV epidemic in the United States and throughout the world.

Reference

  1. Chu SY, Buehler JW, Berkelman RL. Impact of the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic on mortality in women of reproductive age, United States. JAMA 1990;264:225-9.



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