December 1, 2008, marks the 20th annual World AIDS Day (WAD). This day is meant to remind people of the both the great advances that have been made in HIV prevention and treatment and the lives that have been lost to this pandemic.
Around the world, people hold vigils, wear red ribbons, and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. It is important for people to realize that while there are a number of medications available to help prolong life for those living with HIV, there is still no cure for this deadly infection.
HIV/AIDS Around the World
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 33 million around the world living with HIV. This number continues to grow, with approximately 7,500 new infections occurring daily. Of these infections, nearly 60% are in women, mostly in younger age categories. The higher prevalence of infection is due to physiological and social differences between men and women.
HIV/AIDS in the United States
In the United States, there are an estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV. Of these, one in five is unaware of their HIV status. This means that they may be unknowingly transmitting the virus to others. Recently, there have been an estimated 56,300 new cases of HIV occurring in the U.S. each year. Currently, about 26% of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States are in women.
The following statistics represent the race/ethnicity of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2006:
-1% Asian/Pacific Islander
-1% American Indian/Alaska Native
HIV and Woman in the United States
At the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic, very few women were diagnosed with HIV. Today, women make up about one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. In 2004, AIDS was the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25-34, and the fifth leading cause of death for all women between the ages of 35-44.
Women have had an increasing role in the AIDS epidemic. In the year 1992, women made up just 14% of those living with AIDS in the United States. In 2005, this statistic had jumped to 23%.
The most common way that women are infected is through high-risk heterosexual contact. This type of transmission currently makes up 80% of all diagnoses for women. The following statistics represent the race/ethnicity of women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during 2005:
-1% Asian/Pacific Islander
-15 American Indian/Alaska Native
Women are biologically more likely to contract HIV during vaginal intercourse than men. This is because the female genital tract has a greater exposed area than the male genital tract.
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is one of my favorite books on the topic.
An excellent look at the fight against AIDS in Africa