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Why We Should Care: AIDS in the United States

December 1, 2000

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

The State of the Epidemic in the U.S.

  • In the U.S., over 850,000 adults and children are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS: 670,000 are men; 170,000 are women; 10,000 are children.

  • One in three of those infected with HIV do not know they are infected.

  • Among all AIDS cases to date, 82% occurred in men; 18% in women and less than 1% in children.

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  • Effective drug therapies have contributed to decreases of up to 70% in the number of reported AIDS cases and related AIDS deaths.

  • Despite declines in new AIDS cases, the rate of new HIV infections remains high, impacting people across all ages, races, sexual orientations and socio-economic levels.

  • 40,000 new HIV infections were reported in 1999.

  • AIDS is now the fifth leading cause of death for people 25 to 44 years of age, and 50% of all new infections are among young people under age 25.

  • During the 1990's, the epidemic shifted steadily toward a growing proportion of cases among African Americans, Hispanics and women.

  • AIDS due to heterosexual contact is steadily increasing, representing 15% of new cases in 1999.

Major means of exposure for new AIDS cases in 1999, out of 46,000:

  • Sex between men (15,500, or 34%)

  • Injection drug use (10,000, or 22%)

  • Heterosexual contact, primarily through sex with injection drug users (7,000, or 15%)

Factors that contribute to the spread of HIV:

  • Cultural expectations of manhood can promote risk-taking behaviors among men and boys.

  • Poverty and unemployment may increase sexual risk taking, especially for men seeking to compensate for a perceived loss of manhood and power.

  • Isolation -- such as that caused by being in prison, homelessness, migrant work or living in the military -- may lead to sex with multiple partners, unprotected sex and drug use.

Factors that help control the spread of HIV:

  • Prevention programs work -- programs that promote abstinence, safer sex, substance abuse treatment, needle exchange and open communication.

  • There is consistent evidence that people often respond by changing destructive behaviors when they are reached with appropriate messages.

[See the Fact Sheet "Successful Prevention Programs"]


AIDS Cases per 100,000 Population Through December 1999


A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.
 
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