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July 22, 1992

HIV, Heterosexual Transmission, and Women

Author Affiliations

From the Office of the Deputy Director (HIV), Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga.

JAMA. 1992;268(4):520-521. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490040096032

THE HUMAN immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic has moved into the heterosexual population in the United States. This probably started in the 1970s but was making significant inroads by 1982 as determined from a backcalculation model.1 Given the methodologic difficulties in estimating HIV incidence, trend data may give the most reliable picture of the emerging epidemic. As of March 1992, a total of 12 881 patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) had been reported who acquired their infection through heterosexual intercourse, 5100 men and 7781 women.2

Women have outnumbered men in the heterosexual contact transmission category in the United States since the epidemic was recognized in 1981.3 Four-year trends in reported AIDS cases show that women accounted for an increasing proportion of total cases between 1988 (10.4%) and 1991 (12.8%) and heterosexual contact accounted for a greater proportion of female cases each year from 1988 through 1991