The number of women developing AIDS continues to grow: One out of every five new patients now is female.
In an analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that AIDS among women, particularly young women, has risen substantially since the disease appeared 15 years ago.
The infection rate in other groups - including men who use drugs or have sex with other men - is leveling off, the CDC says. But the rate of women being infected during sexual encounters continues to climb, said lead author Dr. Pascale Wortley.
The CDC analysis, based on national surveillance data through 1995, also shows:
Rates of AIDS cases are highest among black women (57 percent of female cases) and those living in large metro areas (74 percent of female cases).
Given the gap between infection with HIV and development of AIDS, the number of women with AIDS who are 24 and younger (7 percent of cases in 1995) shows that prevention efforts must begin before teenagers become sexually active.
By 1995, 67,400 women had been diagnosed with AIDS; 115,000 more are believed to be infected with HIV, twice the number diagnosed with AIDS since the epidemic began in 1981.
The greatest proportion of AIDS cases among women occurs in the Northeast (44 percent of female cases), but cases in the South are increasing (38 percent).