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Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in Women

Constance B. Wofsy, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(15):2074-2076. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390150090043.
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In this issue of The Journal, Guinan and Hardy1 describe the epidemiology of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in women. They report that, as of early November 1986, women accounted for 6.7% of all AIDS cases. Fifty-one percent of the affected women are black and 20% are Hispanic; 52% are intravenous (IV) drug users, and 21% became infected through sexual contact with infected men; 67% of these men were IV drug users. Seventy-nine percent of women with AIDS are 13 to 39 years of age and within their childbearing years. This is of special concern as regards AIDS in children; 80% of pediatric AIDS cases can be traced to mothers who are infected.2

How can we use this information to prevent further infection in women and children and to anticipate treatment needs? To begin, accurate information about AIDS transmission and prevention must be focused on the women at


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