ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 SPACE
* HEALTH
 AIDS
 Aging
 Alternative
 Cancer
 Children
 Diet & Fitness
 Men
 Women
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 ARTS & STYLE
 NATURE
 IN-DEPTH
 ANALYSIS
 myCNN

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

  MULTIMEDIA:
 video
 video archive
 audio
 multimedia showcase
 more services

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

  health > AIDS > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Women and AIDS: The forgotten epidemic

July 9, 1999
Web posted at: 10:17 AM EDT (1417 GMT)


In this story:

An international crisis

Situation in the United States

More than one way to get it

Much work to be done

RELATEDSicon



By Hacsi Horvath


YOUNG PEOPLE (AGE 13 TO 24) AND HIV INFECTION IN THE U.S. BETWEEN JANUARY 1994 AND JUNE 1997 (THE LAST PERIOD FOR WHICH STATISTICS WERE AVAILABLE)
7200 new cases, of which
  • 3203 (44%) were female
  • 4566 (63%) were African-Americans of both sexes
  • 449 (6%) were injection-drug users of both sexes
  • (WebMD) -- When the acronyms "AIDS" and "HIV" first were made known to the world in the early 1980s, it was usually in the context of a strange and deadly new disease that primarily afflicted gay men, recipients of tainted blood transfusions and people who shared needles for injecting illegal drugs. Millions of people have died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) since then, and many of them have not been junkies, blood recipients or gay men: A very large number have been women who acquired the infection through heterosexual sex.

    An international crisis

    In fact, the number of women with AIDS worldwide has been rising dramatically, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia, where it is more common for it to be transmitted heterosexually than otherwise. According to CARE, one of the world's largest international relief and development organizations, more than 9 million women are living with AIDS -- 41 percent of all reported cases.

    Situation in the United States

    In 1996, HIV and AIDS was the fourth-leading cause of death for women in the United States between the ages of 25 and 44. Many of these women were given HIV through sex with infected male partners who were injection-drug users. Nearly 1 million Americans are currently infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus, the germ that causes AIDS), of whom around 150,000 are women. Between 1985 and 1997 the proportion of AIDS cases in American women, including adolescents, rose from 7 percent to 22 percent, more than tripling.

    More than one way to get it

    The problem is compounded because many American women with AIDS may have been infected through a combination of two modes of transmission -- sex and their own intravenous drug use. In addition to the usual risks that come with sharing needles, these drug-abusing women are often having unprotected sex with men who share needles with others. And even if the women are not themselves having sex with multiple partners, the men in their lives may well be -- leading to an elaborate, increasingly risky chain reaction through which HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted in all directions.

    But HIV and AIDS are not just a threat to women who abuse drugs or who have sex with drug abusers. Any woman (or any man) who has sex with more than one partner is at risk, particularly if that sexual contact is made without correct and consistent use of latex condoms. Young women under the age of 25 are at much greater risk than older women -- not only do they tend to have more sexual partners and to engage in riskier sexual behaviors, they are often unable to negotiate condom use and safer sex practices with their partners.

    Much work to be done

    Despite the recent promising news about treatments, the AIDS epidemic is not yet over. Although AIDS-related deaths among women in the United States have been decreasing over the past few years because of better HIV and AIDS medications, they have not been decreasing as fast as AIDS-related deaths in men. But the best strategy against HIV and AIDS is still prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actively building better HIV and AIDS prevention programs for women; implementing community-level projects to help young women and ethnic women understand the importance of condom use; and addressing with them the convergence of HIV infection and intravenous drug use. Whether such programs can be developed for the rest of the world remains to be seen.

    Copyright 1999 by WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.



    RELATEDS AT WebMD:
    Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    RELATED SITES:
    Living with AIDS
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention
    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

    LATEST HEALTH STORIES:
    China SARS numbers pass 5,000
    Report: Form of HIV in humans by 1940
    Fewer infections for back-sleeping babies
    Pneumonia vaccine may help heart, too
     LATEST HEADLINES:
    SEARCH CNN.com
    Enter keyword(s)   go    help

    Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.