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HIV infections surge among U.S. women

Women and AIDS September 16, 1997
Web posted at: 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- More than a decade after it hit the United States, the AIDS epidemic has taken a devastating turn into a new segment of society: younger women who date older men.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that women now account for 20 percent of all adults with AIDS.

"Between 1991 and 1995 there was a 63 percent increase in women diagnosed with AIDS," says Dr. Pascale Wortley of the CDC. "That's a large increase."

Many of those women are from poor regions, and do not have access to the information and drugs that can keep them healthy, researchers said in a study published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The increase in HIV infections among women is apparently not due to shared needles or promiscuity -- but to misplaced trusts.

Young women are less likely to insist older men wear condoms than they would partners their own age.

Mutner

One woman in her forties, Connie Mutner, said she had unprotected sex with a man who told her that he was HIV-negative.

"I asked him two or three times, 'are you sure you've been tested,'" she said. "And he said 'I'm absolutely positive I do not have the virus.'"

A mutual friend later passed on shocking news -- a past girlfriend of his had died of AIDS.

Connie is now one of the estimated 60,000 to 115,000 women with HIV whose disease has not blossomed into full-blown AIDS.

Her advice to other women: Don't be too trusting.

Meanwhile, the medical community is rethinking its approach to AIDS awareness campaigns and prevention strategies.

"We need to gear prevention to an even earlier age than we suspected before," says Dr. Toni Rossi, who treats women with AIDS in her Atlanta practice.

 
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