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HIV and Women

Today in the United States the HIV/AIDS epidemic represents a growing and persistent health threat to women, especially young women and women of color.

Early in the epidemic, HIV infection and AIDS were diagnosed for relatively few women. In 2002, HIV infection was the leading cause of death for African American women aged 25 to 34 years and was among the four leading causes of death for African American women aged 20 to 24 and 35 to 44 years, as well as Hispanic women aged 35 to 44 years. Overall, in the same year, HIV infection was the 6th leading cause of death among all women aged 25 to 34 years and the 4th leading cause of death among all women aged 35 to 44 years.

Yes, statistics can be very boring. However, if you are a woman who is HIV positive these numbers are vital to the welfare of women.

Cumulative Effects of HIV Infection and AIDS (through 2005)
• Through 2006, 180,000 women were given a diagnosis of AIDS, a number that represents about one fifth of the total AIDS diagnoses.

• An estimated 81,864 women with AIDS died. These women account for 16% of the deaths of persons with AIDS.• Women with AIDS made up an increasing part of the epidemic. In 1992, women accounted for an estimated 14% of adults and adolescents living with AIDS]. By the end of 2007, this percentage had grown to 22%.

• According to a recent CDC study of more than 19,500 patients in 10 US cities, HIV-infected women were 12% less likely than infected men to receive prescriptions for the most effective treatments for HIV infection

Diagnoses of AIDS in 2007

• An estimated 11,498 women had a diagnosis of AIDS, a number that represents 27% of the AIDS diagnoses.

• The rate of AIDS diagnoses for African American women was approximately 25 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Hispanic women.

• African American and Hispanic women together represented about 25% of all US women, yet they account for 83% of AIDS diagnoses reported in 2007.

• An estimated 88,815 women were living with AIDS, representing 22% of the estimated people living with AIDS. Diagnoses of AIDS in women, by race/ethnicity, 2003 (Note: excludes women from U.S. dependencies, possessions and associated nations.HIV/AIDS in 2007.

• Heterosexual contact was the source of 80% of these HIV infections.

• Women accounted for 27% of the estimated diagnoses of HIV infection.

• The number of estimated HIV diagnoses for women remained stable during 2002–2007.


Lack of Recognition of Partners’ Risk
Some women may be unaware of their male partners’ risk for HIV infection (such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, sex with men, or injection drug use). Men who engage in sex both with men and women can acquire HIV from a male partner and can then transmit the virus to female partners. Sexual Inequality in

Relationships with Men
It is speculated that some women may not insist on condom use out of fear that their partners will physically abuse them or leave them. Sexual inequality is a major issue in relationships between teenage girls and older men. In one CDC study of urban high schools, more than one third of African American and

Hispanic female teenagers had their first sexual encounter with an older man. These teenagers, compared with teenagers whose partners were also teenagers, were younger at first sexual intercourse, were less likely to have used a condom during first and most recently reported intercourse, or were less likely to have used condoms consistently.

Biologic Vulnerability and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
A woman is approximately twice as likely as a man to contract HIV infection during vaginal intercourse, according to the CDC. Additionally, the presence of a sexually transmitted disease greatly increases the likelihood of acquiring or transmitting HIV infection. The rates of gonorrhea and syphilis are higher among women of color than among white women. These higher rates are especially marked in the younger age groups (15–24 years).

Substance Abuse
An estimated one in five new HIV diagnoses for women is related to injection drug use. Sharing injection equipment contaminated with HIV is not the only risk associated with substance use. Women who smoke or snort crack cocaine or other non injection drugs may also be at high risk for sexual transmission of HIV if they sell or trade sex for drugs. Also, both casual and chronic substance users are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Understanding HIV and AIDS Data
Understanding AIDS surveillance: Through a uniform system, CDC receives reports of AIDS cases from all US states and territories. Since the beginning of the epidemic, these data have been used to monitor trends because they are representative of all areas. The data are statistically adjusted for reporting delays and for the redistribution of cases initially reported without risk. As treatment has become more available, trends in new AIDS diagnoses no longer accurately represent trends in new HIV infections; these data now represent persons who are tested late in the course of HIV infection, who have limited access to care, or in whom treatment has failed.HIV/AIDS: This term includes persons with a diagnosis of HIV infection (not AIDS), a diagnosis of HIV infection and a later diagnosis of AIDS, or concurrent diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS.

(Source of some of these statistics: Centers for Disease Control)

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