October 28, 2002
Officials said the trend is alarming and preventable. The most effective way of slowing the female AIDS rate is "getting women to empower themselves, to take care of themselves, to go get tested," said Felicia B. Lynch, director of health and support services for the D.C. Department of Health's HIV/AIDS Administration. Taking control means saying no to sex, using condoms, and taking medication as prescribed if a test turns up positive, she said.
Guy Weston, the HIV/AIDS office's director of research, said the proportion of women with AIDS in the District has increased consistently in two decades. In 1981, women accounted for 7.2 percent of adult AIDS cases in the District. That proportion rose to 11 percent in 1990, and last year, women represented 33 percent of the city's new AIDS cases. The number of female adolescents and young women with the disease also appears to be rising, with those in the 13-to-24 age group accounting for 6.5 percent of recent AIDS cases, Weston said.
The percentage of men has decreased significantly in the new AIDS cases reported in the District. Weston attributed that trend to the sharper focus on men in prevention and care programs and less research on how HIV/AIDS affects women. Last year, 616 new adult AIDS cases were reported in the District, 204 of them among women, Weston said. The total number of D.C. residents 13 or older living with AIDS is 13,899. Twenty-four percent, or 3,336, are girls or women.
10.27.02; Bill Broadway