HIV/AIDS: Young, Poor Women Have High Infection Rate
According to a new study released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "[y]oung, poor women are being infected with the AIDS virus at a higher rate than their male counterparts." The AP/Dayton Daily News reports that the findings are based on seven years of data from the HIV tests of 350,000 youths in the federal Job Corps program, which "provides job training to poor youths and high school dropouts." Researchers found that two of every 1,000 youths tested positive for HIV, a rate "twice as high as those reported by adolescent health clinics and eight times higher than rates for youths applying for miliary service." Most alarming, however, was the finding that the rate for females age 16-21 in the study was 50% higher than that of the males -- 3 per 1,000 versus 2 per 1,000, respectively. And five out of every 1,000 black women were infected -- the highest rate for any group.
A closer analysis of the data found that most of the discrepancy between the sexes was in the 16-18 age group, where the rate was 2.4 per 1,000 for women versus only 1.1 per 1,000 for men. The study authors, led by CDC epidemiologist Linda Valleroy, blamed the trend on the fact that "young women are more likely to have sex with older partners." Moreover, the researchers discovered that black women were the only ethnic group in which the rates were higher than those for their male counterparts. White rates were about equal, and the rate for Hispanic men was more than double the rate for Hispanic women. Valleroy said the study underscores the need for more innovative outreach programs targeting young, poor populations. She said, "We've got to be creative in getting to them. They're not in school -- high school phys-ed teachers are not going to reach them. They're not employed -- AIDS training in the workplace is not going to reach them." The study did note, however, that the "overall rate of infection among all the youths" declined during the years of the study, 1990 to 1996 (Bynum, 8/27).