About AIDS

Heterosexual Women's AIDS Cases Continue Serious Increase

For several years, we have seen a seriously rising incidence of AIDS among women in the U.S. Latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) show that this trend continues: The number of women diagnosed with full AIDS (not just HIV infection) increased 63% from June, 1991, through June, 1995. These 67,400 women represent almost 20% of all the cases diagnosed during the period.

Some demographic patterns are clear. The greatest increase was among heterosexual teenagers, who are often in sexual relationships with males who are older or who share drug needles. Thus, teenage girls are becoming infected at an earlier age than their male counterparts. Disproportionately, the women with AIDS are black and live in major urban areas. Numerically, the majority of cases are still from the northeastern U.S., although the rate in the South is actually increasing faster.

The same general trends can be seen in Austin, where 231 women were diagnosed with AIDS from 1991-96. While 9% of 1991's diagnosed individuals were women, in 1996 the share was 14%. Heterosexual intercourse is increasingly the route of transmission, and African-American women are disproportionately represented.

Cases among heterosexual women are predicted to continue to increase, especially among young women. Prevention efforts must reach young people as early as possible, before they make a decision to become sexually active or engage in drug use. (For details, see Journal of the American Medical Society, 9/17/97, #278; or the CDC MMWR at http://www.cdc.gov)

-- Sandy Bartlett, Information/Education Coordinator

AIDS Services of Austin

ASA Info Line: 458-AIDS

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