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Charting the spread of AIDS.

For the first time, the number of U.S. AIDS cases among women infected through heterosexual contact has outstripped the number of cases among women who got their infection through intravenous drug use.

That's one conclusion reached by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Their update, published in the July 23 MORBiDiTY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, provides a snapshot of the U.S. AIDS epidemic in 1992.

"The trends are all in the direction of a heterosexually transmitted disease," comments June E. Osborn, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Osborn and David E. Rogers of Cornell University Medical College in New York City, who together head the National Commission on AIDS, wrote a related commentary in the July 28 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION.

The CDC logged 47,095 cases of AIDS last year, an increase of 3.5 percent over 1991. The absolute number of men with AIDS remains much higher than the number of women with AIDS. Yet last year the number of AIDS cases increased four times faster among women than among men.

In 1992, 50 percent of the diagnosed female AIDS cases could be traced to heterosexual sex with an infected partner, while just 44 percent were attributed to a woman's own use of intravenous drugs, the report states.

Drugs still play a major role in HIV infection, even when a woman gets the virus through heterosexual activity, notes Pascale Wortley at the AIDS Surveillance Branch of the CDC. The CDC report notes that 57 percent of women who acquired HIV through heterosexual sex were sleeping with men who are drug abusers.

The CDC report notes that 10 metropolitan areas, including New York City and Washington, D.C., account for more than half the cases among women.

Nonetheless, Osborn and Rogers argue that the AIDS epidemic isn't simply a problem localized to certain drug-using communities in urban areas. "Infection with HIV is spreading slowly, but relentlessly, into all sectors of our society," they warn in their commentary
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Title Annotation:spread of AIDS among heterosexual women
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 31, 1993
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