Improved Research Efforts, Education Needed to Prevent Infectious Diseases, Including HIV, in Women, CDC Says
March 1, 2004
CDC officials on Friday at the first International Conference on Women and Infectious Diseases in Atlanta said that improved research efforts, educational outreach programs and diagnostic tools are needed to fight infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, among women, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Yee, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/28). Sexually transmitted diseases and other infectious diseases affect women at higher rates than men and can be especially detrimental during pregnancy, CDC Director Julie Gerberding said, adding that almost every STD can be passed on to a fetus or infant, "sometimes with fatal consequences." For example, between 60% and 70% of women who are infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia may be unaware of their infection, and delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to chronic pain, stillbirth, infertility and death, according to the New York Times. In addition, malaria, one of the most common parasitic infections, disproportionately affects women and can cause more severe complications in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant (Altman, New York Times, 2/28). Some health experts say that women are more susceptible to infectious diseases because they lack access to health information and services in addition to other social and economic inequities, the AP/Chronicle reports. "We have a lot of theories but really we don't know why women and girls are disproportionately affected by these diseases," Gerberding said. Health officials are urging countries to start collecting separate health data on women instead of combining data on women and men. In addition, health officials are being trained to broaden health education for women and "empower women in health matters," according to the AP/Chronicle (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/28).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.