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A Growing Trend

A Growing Trend

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A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of new HIV infections that were reported between 1999 and 2002 in 29 states found that 35% had resulted from heterosexual sex. And of the new heterosexually acquired HIV cases, 64% were women and 74% were African-American. Data from the 29 states are considered reliable because for years they have tracked HIV cases by patients' names, the CDC's preferred method. The states account for two fifths of all U.S. HIV cases. The sample did not include states with the highest HIV rates, such as New York and California. The study, published in the February 20 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, included both asymptomatic HIV patients and AIDS patients. During the study period, there were 101,877 new HIV diagnoses. Almost 7,400 of the infections'one fifth of them acquired heterosexually'were discovered at the time of AIDS diagnosis, suggesting that those who were infected did not know they had been exposed. The data indicate that HIV is increasingly a disease of minorities and women. Of all new infections, 55% were among blacks, compared to 31% among whites and 11% among Latinos. Twenty-nine percent of new infections were among women. Among cases of HIV infections acquired through heterosexual contact, 70% of whites, 64% of African-Americans, and 56% of Latinos were female. Among 13- to 19-year-olds who acquired the infection through heterosexual contact, 89% were female. The findings do not surprise Gina Wingwood, a codirector of the Emory University Center for AIDS Research. They indicate that 'prevention messages and educational programs are not being disseminated, or are not being understood, or are not effective,' she says. 'Males have more power and direct control over condom use because they are the ones who wear condoms. Females have to negotiate.' The 29 states where the name-based reporting was studied are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. More recently, five additional states'Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, New York, and Texas'have implemented name-based reporting of HIV infections.

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