Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

National News
Report: Women's HIV Risk From Heterosexual Sex Rises in Massachusetts

December 3, 2002

Heterosexual sex has passed intravenous drug use as the primary way women in Massachusetts are being infected with HIV, according to a state Department of Public Health report released Monday. Since 1999, when the MDPH started tracking HIV cases, more women have been getting infected through sex than drug use. According to the data, the number of women getting HIV from sexual partners not known to have risk factors for the disease has risen to more than 40 percent of all cases among females, while those getting infected as a result of IV drug use has dropped to about 20 percent. Almost 30 percent were infected through sex with partners with known risk factors.

Jean Maguire, director of MDPH's AIDS bureau, said the data are troubling because officials are not sure of the best way to reach heterosexual women with the safe sex message. In the past, efforts have been geared toward reaching gay men and intravenous drug users, the groups that made up most HIV/AIDS cases.

Black women make up almost half of women newly diagnosed with HIV in the state, and Hispanic women are represented disproportionately to their population. Contributing to these numbers is an increase in reported cases among women born outside the United States, the report notes.

Among men, gays represent an increasing number of new HIV cases; male infections from IV drug use have dropped. In 2001, 34 percent of new AIDS cases were among gays, up from 30 percent the year before. Twenty-nine percent were among IV drug users, down from 34 percent in 2000.

The report also shows a 6 percent increase in the number of Massachusetts residents living with HIV/AIDS -- indicating an increase in new cases and more people living longer with the disease. Some 7,600 men and women are living with AIDS in Massachusetts; another 6,000 more having been diagnosed with HIV. Officials estimate that another 7,000 more have HIV and do not yet know it.

Back to other CDC news for December 3, 2002

Previous Updates

Excerpted from:
Boston Herald
12.02.02; Michael Lasalandra

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.