Fact Sheet: HIV/AIDS Among Adults

Today, AIDS is second leading cause of death among Americans ages 25 to 44 and the leading cause of death among African-American men and women in this age group. In 1997, 60,161 new AIDS diagnoses among adults in the United States were reported. Although advancements in drug treatments have significantly lowered the numbers of AIDS-related deaths and slowed AIDS incidence in recent years, the rate that Americans are becoming infected with HIV has not abated.

Last year, more than 14,000 new HIV infections among adults/adolescents were reported. However, this number does not reflect the thousands of Americans who are either unaware of their HIV status, were tested in states that do not report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or who were tested anonymously.

The only way to slow the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the nation is to alert all Americans of the threats that the epidemic poses within their communities and among their peers.

  • As of December 1997, 633,000 American men and women had been diagnosed with AIDS.

  • CDC estimates that at least 40,000 people become infected with HIV each year.

  • By December 1997, 385,968 Americans had died as a result of AIDS-related illnesses.

Women and HIV/AIDS

Since 1985, the proportion of adolescent and adult women reported with AIDS to CDC increased steadily each year, from 7% in 1985 to an alarming 22% in 1997. As the numbers of women with HIV/AIDS continue to rise, disparities in the services available for women, particularly those women in minority groups, have become increasingly evident. Due to this "gender gap," women are far less likely to be educated about HIV transmission and prevention, to be tested for HIV, or to seek treatment if they indeed are infected. Due to a combination of economic, social, and cultural inequalities, American women are three times more likely to die from AIDS than men.

  • AIDS is the third leading cause of death among women ages 25-44 and the single leading cause of death among African-American women in this age group.

  • Women represent 16% of all adult/adolescent AIDS cases ever reported to CDC. In 1997, women represented 22% of reported AIDS cases.

  • Among the the reported AIDS cases in 13- to 19-year-olds in 1997, 49% were female; in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, 38% were female; and in the 25 and older group, 21% were female.

  • Among the 90,000 HIV cases reported to CDC, women account for 25%.

  • African-American women represent 56% of all reported AIDS cases among women. AIDS incidence is 18 times higher among African American women than white women.

  • The AIDS rate among Latina women is eight times higher than for white women. Latina women represent 20% of AIDS cases among women.

  • Injection drug use by women accounts for 44% of all reported female AIDS cases.

  • In 39% of all reported female AIDS cases, the virus was transmitted through heterosexual contact.

Men and HIV/AIDS

Men in the United States currently account for 84% of all adult/adolescent AIDS cases. Between 1995 and 1996, there was an 8% decrease in the number of AIDS cases among men, partly due to the increased prevention efforts targeted toward white men who have sex with men (MSM).

  • 68% of all new HIV infections in 1997 were among adult/adolescent males.

  • Of all male adult and adolescent AIDS cases, MSM account for 58%.

  • The percentages for AIDS cases among MSM of color are significantly higher than the representation of men of color in the overall population.

  • African-American males represent 27% of all reported AIDS cases and 35% of all new reported HIV infections among adolescents and adults in 1997.

  • While AIDS incidences among African-American MSM and African-American injection drug users have dropped, heterosexual cases among African-American men have continued to increase.

  • Among the 170,141 cumulative AIDS cases in African-American men, 38% were in MSM and 35% were in injection drug users.

  • Among the 93,584 AIDS cases in Latino men, 45% were transmitted through male-male sex and 36% were transmitted through injection drug use.

  • AIDS cases caused by heterosexual transmission of HIV within the Latino population have increased by 11% in the decade 1986-1996, while cases due to injection drug use and male-male sex have decreased 5% and 8%, respectively.

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