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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys or disables the cells that are responsible for fighting infection. AIDS is diagnosed when HIV has weakened the immune system enough that the body has difficulty fighting infections.1While HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect men, a growing number of women are also affected in 2008, an estimated 39.5 new cases of HIV per 100,000 males (data not shown) and 11.5 per 100,000 females aged 13 and older were reported in the United States.

Rates of new cases among adolescent and adult females vary dramatically by race and ethnicity. HIV disproportionately affects Black females (56.0 cases per 100,000 females). Non- Hispanic White and Asian females had the lowest rates of new cases of HIV (2.9 and 3.0 cases per 100,000 females, respectively).

A newly released study indicates that low-income individuals may be at greater risk for HIV. In low-income urban areas, HIV prevalence among heterosexuals was estimated to be 2.4 percent among those with incomes below 100 percent of poverty and 1.2 percent among those with higher incomes. In comparison, national prevalence is .45 percent (data not shown).2

Early detection of HIV infection is critical in preventing transmission of the virus to others, and persons aware of their HIV infection can benefit from advances in medicine that may significantly prolong their lives. Despite these individual and societal benefits, a large proportion of people identified as HIV-positive progress rapidly toward an AIDS diagnosis. In 2007, 30% of HIV-positive females received an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of their HIV diagnosis. Females were just as likely as males to have had an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of an HIV diagnosis (data not shown).

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS Basic Information. Sept 2008. [online] http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.htm, accessed 06/30/10.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NCHHSTP Newsroom. New Study in Low-Income Heterosexuals in America’s Inner Cities Reveals High HIV Rates. July 2010 [online] http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/povertyandhivpressrelease.html, accessed 07/27/10.

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