Percentage of Women With HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts Tripled Over Last Decade
The percentage of women with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts almost tripled over the last decade, rising from about 10% of total HIV/AIDS cases in 1990 to at least 30% of cases in 2000, according to the state Department of Public Health, the Associated Press reports. HIV/AIDS has "increasingly become a woman's disease" in the state, with women accounting for more than half of HIV/AIDS cases in some communities, including Fall River, Leominster, Amherst and Holyoke. As of Aug. 1, about 3,862 of the state's 13,725 HIV/AIDS cases were among women. About 36% of the women were black, 35% were white and 25% were Hispanic. Women who use injection drugs or who have sexual contact with an injection drug user are most at risk, and the problem is especially acute among women in poorer communities that have high numbers of immigrants, Jean Maguire, director of the state's AIDS bureau, said. Getting women tested and into treatment is often difficult because many women do not perceive themselves to be at risk for HIV infection, according to Dr. Lisa Hirschhorn, who runs the AIDS program at the Dimock Community Health Center in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. Hirschhorn noted that there is "still a fair amount of ignorance" among women about HIV risk factors. Officials said that more effort should be made toward educating women -- particularly women of childbearing age -- about HIV/AIDS (LeBlanc, Associated Press, 8/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.