Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia Being Disproportionately Affected by HIV/AIDS, Study of UNAIDS Report Finds
Young women in the poorest countries are being disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, according to a study gathered from tables "in the back pages" of last week's UNAIDS report on the pandemic, the Boston Globe reports. Women and girls account for 67% of the 8.6 million people in sub-Saharan Africa between the ages of 15-24 who have HIV or AIDS. Young women also make up 62% of HIV/AIDS cases in South Asia. Comparatively, boys and men in the same age group constitute the majority of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Russia. Global health experts "say that the plight of young women has slipped out of the limelight in recent years and needs to be urgently addressed [at the XIV International AIDS Conference] this week and beyond by leaders in Africa, South Asia and wealthier countries." Stephen Lewis, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's envoy on AIDS in Africa, said, "It's an unbelievably horrifying pattern." AIDS experts attributed the higher prevalence in women to the fact that three-quarters of all HIV cases are transmitted via heterosexual sex, up from 60% in 1990. They added that "dire economic straits" often lead young women into prostitution or marriages with older men, "who are more likely to be infected" (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 7/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.