Surgeon General Notes Increase in HIV Infection Among Women
A "profound shift" in HIV infection trends has led to a "startling" rise in infections among women, who now account for nearly 25% of new AIDS cases, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher's March commentary states. Satcher notes that in 1982, women comprised only 6.7% of all new AIDS cases. Minority women should "take particular notice" of these new findings, Satcher states, adding that African-American and Hispanic women accounted for 81% of AIDS cases among women from July 1999 to June 2000. Satcher says that there is "little" explanation for why HIV infection is increasing among women, although he points to several social, cultural and economic factors that could help explain the trend. Satcher explains that society must engage in more "open conversation" concerning sexual health and that individuals must be willing to be honest and open about their sexual history. Satcher notes that bisexuality also must be "addressed," since public officials believe that "a significant number of men ... especially in communities of color," hide their bisexuality from their female partners because they fear homophobia or other negative consequences. Satcher states, "As a community, we must establish systems that promote women's health and ease the competing economic and social burdens women often face ... that can compromise it." He concludes, "In relation to HIV, effective prevention will occur if women believe that HIV is a threat to them personally, if they have the tools to prevent HIV infection, and if they feel they are capable of using them" (Surgeon General release, March 2001).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.