More Than One-Third of New HIV Cases in United States Due to Heterosexual Sex, CDC Reports
Approximately 35% of newly reported HIV cases in the United States between 1999 and 2002 occurred as a result of heterosexual sex, according to a CDC report published in the Feb. 20 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. CDC analyzed all new HIV and AIDS diagnoses that occurred in 29 states between 1999 and 2002. The 29 states, which were selected because they had several years' experience reporting both HIV and AIDS cases, represented about 40% of AIDS cases in the United States, according to CDC. The report found that 64% of newly reported HIV cases stemming from heterosexual contact were among women and 74% were among blacks. Overall, 55% of new HIV infections were among blacks, compared with 31% among whites and 11% among Hispanics (McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/20). Although blacks and Hispanics represent only 21% of the population in the states examined in the report, they accounted for 84% of new HIV cases acquired through heterosexual contact, according to the report (Marchione, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/19). The racial distribution of cases not acquired through heterosexual contact, such as those acquired through injection drug use or through homosexual contact, was "more equal," the report found, according to Reuters Health (Reuters Health, 2/19). The report also found that teenagers seem to be "unaware" of the risk of HIV transmission through heterosexual sex, as 90% of new HIV cases among teens were due to heterosexual contact, the Journal Sentinel reports. In addition, most new HIV cases among teenagers were among girls (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/19).
"The findings are unfortunately not surprising: We have been seeing a rise in heterosexually acquired HIV for quite some time," Dr. Gina Wingood, a co-director of the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University in Atlanta, said, adding that the situation is "extremely concerning" and "indicates that prevention messages and educational programs are not being disseminated, or are not being understood, or are not effective" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/20). The report recommends that "[p]revention and education programs targeting heterosexually active teens, especially females and persons in certain racial/ethnic populations should be developed." The report also says that "barriers to care and prevention services" for minorities "should be removed" (Reuters Health, 2/19).