CONTRA COSTA: AIDS Cases Fall
A new epidemiology report conducted by the Contra Costa County Department of Health Services shows that AIDS cases in the county have declined dramatically, but that "heterosexual women remain the fastest growing group of people with AIDS." The number of new AIDS cases among men in the county began to decline in 1993. "Between 1996 and 1997, new cases dropped 40%," the Contra Costa Times reports. However, the percentage of women with AIDS began climbing in 1988, although it has recently begun to decline. Women with AIDS grew from fewer than "1% of the total Contra Costa cases in 1985 to 28% in 1996." Gay and bisexual men "make up 61.5% of all AIDS cases in Contra Costa," and intravenous drug users make up "26% of Contra Costa's cases."
Women At Risk
Fran Guyon, supervisor for HIV case managers at New Connections, a countywide behavioral health care provider, said the reason AIDS cases are increasing among women is because women "don't see themselves as being in the high-risk behavior category." She said, "But then they have to go to the hospital for something like pneumonia, and they find out it's because their immune system is wiped out." Guyon added, "I suspect a lot of women who are infected don't know they're infected." There are 260 women infected with AIDS in Contra Costa County. Nearly 38% of those got the virus from heterosexual contact, while the majority of the rest are intravenous drug users. Contra Costa ranks 10th in the number of AIDS cases among California's 58 counties. The county health department estimates that treating county residents with AIDS could cost the county up to "$30 million a year for the next few years and another $30 million annually for people with HIV" (Collins-Sears, 2/28).