AIDS among women is threatening to assume epidemic proportions, according to Suman Mehta, AIDS coordinator for the UN Population Fund. On Tuesday at the 14th International AIDS Conference, Mehta said half the 5 million people infected with HIV last year were women. Young women contract HIV more easily, she said; men generally take longer to contract it. Particularly in Africa, young women often are persuaded to have sex with older men within the constraints of a social system that accords the women lower social status. Three-quarters of the new HIV cases in 2001 were caused by unprotected sex: a reason to continue promoting the use of condoms, Mehta said.
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