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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
No Plateau for HIV/AIDS Epidemic in US Women
Philips, Pat
June 23, 1997
Journal of the American Medical Association (06/11/97) Vol.

At the third National Conference on Women and HIV in May, it was noted that women, the fastest-growing new group of AIDS patients in the United States, are being overlooked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that while the number of AIDS deaths in the first half of 1996 fell by about 15 percent, the rate increased 3 percent in women. The CDC's Ann Duerr adds that minority women represent a significant number of the cases, with the AIDS rate for African American women and Hispanic women some 17 times and six times higher, respectively, than that for white women. Alexandra Levine, conference co-chair and member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, asserts that the case is "different for women because they do not have the same access to the health care system as men." One reason for this, some say, is that in the early stages of the epidemic in the United States, HIV and AIDS were seen mostly in middle- class men who engaged in homosexual sex. But the mode of transmission is increasingly through heterosexual sex or intravenous drug use, and those becoming infected are poorer than the first patients were. Among the many issues with which HIV-infected women must deal are the gynecologic manifestations of the disease and access to drug trials. The development of the female condom has helped to give women some control over preventing HIV infection. Levine also notes that vaginal microbicides, now in various stages of testing, are particularly promising.