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AIDS Showing a Dramatic Rise Among Women

February 9, 1995

ATLANTA (AP) _ The spread of AIDS among women has dramatically increased in the United States and shows no signs of slowing down, even though it is leveling off in the population as a whole, health officials said Thursday.

Cases among women are increasing by roughly 17 percent a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, and growing numbers of women are contracting AIDS through heterosexual contact.

``Women need to consistently use condoms when they’re having heterosexual sex,″ said Dr. Patricia Fleming of the CDC’s Division of HIV-AIDS.

Worldwide, women are the fastest-growing group of new HIV infections, the World Health Organization reported one day earlier.

The CDC report shows what happened among women in 1994, the second full year after the CDC expanded its AIDS definition to reflect the toll on women and people with tuberculosis or depressed immune systems.

In 1994, women accounted for 14,081, or 18 percent, of the 79,674 new AIDS cases among adults. There were 16,798 new cases among women in 1993, but that number was inflated by the expanded definition.

Under the old definition, the rate of AIDS among women has been increasing about 17 percent a year since 1992, Fleming said.

Last week, the CDC reported that among all Americans the AIDS epidemic is stabilizing at a 3 percent annual increase.

Forty-one percent of infected women reported contracting AIDS through intravenous drug use, while 38 percent reported contracting AIDS from a male partner. The number involving a male partner will continue to escalate, Fleming said.

``The women may not be recognizing the risk of their partner,″ Fleming said. ``Women can’t protect themselves by guessing.″

AIDS continues to hit minority women much harder than whites. Black and Hispanic women accounted for three-quarters of the 1994 AIDS cases among women. The rate of black women, 62.7 per 100,000 people, was 16 times higher than for white women, 3.8, while the rate of Hispanic women was 26.

Of the 441,528 people who have contracted AIDS since 1981, 13 percent or 58,428 were women.