HIV-Positive U.S. Women More Concentrated in South, Among Minorities, CDC Says
The majority of HIV cases among women in the United States that have been reported over the past few years among women are in the South and minority women, CDC officials said on Tuesday at the 2005 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, USA Today reports. According to data from the 32 states that report HIV cases to CDC, 76% of new HIV cases among women that were reported between 1999 and 2003 occurred among women in the South, even though only 29% of U.S. women live in the region. In addition, girls ages 13 to 19 in the South are increasingly affected by HIV. According to researchers, 8% of new HIV diagnoses in the South occur in that age group, four times the rate found in other parts of the country. CDC researchers said poverty, lack of access to medical care, poor education about HIV/AIDS and lower social status are driving the epidemic among women in the South. Other regional "hot spots" for HIV among women -- who account for about 25% of the country's HIV-positive population -- include the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, according to USA Today.
Lisa Fitzpatrick of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention said that black women were 18 times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV in 2003 as white women and Hispanic women were four times as likely to test positive as white women (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/15). Fitzpatrick and colleagues last year conducted a study among black women in North Carolina, finding that those who were HIV-positive were more likely to be unemployed, be on public assistance, have many sexual partners, receive money for sex and use crack cocaine than HIV-negative black women who were at an increased risk of contracting the disease, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/15). The study also found that HIV-positive women began having sexual intercourse at the average age of 14.5 -- one year earlier than HIV-negative women -- and two-thirds reported having other sexually transmitted diseases, compared with 65% of HIV-negative women (USA Today, 6/15). Another study conducted in North Carolina by Adaora Adimora of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that economic and racial oppression, as well as a lack of available black men, contributed to unsafe sexual activity among some black women. Another study by Gail Wyatt of the University of California-Los Angeles found that half of HIV-positive women reported being sexually abused as a child (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/15). Researchers have begun pilot programs targeting women who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including sexually active black and Hispanic women, women with histories of child abuse and women who are incarcerated. The programs aim to build self-esteem and help women establish more power in relationships in order to negotiate abstinence or condom use (USA Today, 6/15).
Webcasts of select sessions of the National HIV Prevention Conference are available online from kaisernetwork.org.
Miami Program for Young Latino Women
The Miami Herald on Wednesday profiled the HIV/AIDS prevention program called SENORITAS, which stands for Student Education Needed in Order to Reduce Infection and Transmission of AIDS/HIV and STDs. The program selects Florida International University nursing students to counsel undergraduate Latino women by telling them a fictional story about a group of friends. The fictional "amigas" go to high school together in Miami, go to different colleges around Florida and come back for winter vacation and discuss men and sex, covering several themes about HIV prevention, according to the Herald. FIU nursing instructor Sande Gracia Jones, who started the program in 2003, said she is planning another prevention program aimed at fraternity houses (Tasker, Miami Herald, 6/15).