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Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in women and children in the USA

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In the USA, the AIDS epidemic has shown dramatic increases among women and children in the past decade with more than 70 000 cases in women and 7000 cases in children reported. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is the seventh leading cause of death in children aged 1–4 years and the fourth leading cause of death among women aged 25–44 years. Data from the National Survey of Childbearing Women, a blinded serosurvey of blood specimens left over from routine metabolic screening of most infants born in the USA, indicate that approximately 7000 HIV‐infected women have given birth each year for the past several years. Human immunodeficiency virus infection disproportionately affects African‐Americans and women of Hispanic ethnicity. Most cases in women and children have come from states along the east coast and large urban areas. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) continues to be the most commonly reported opportunistic infection in children with AIDS. As of 31 December, 1995, 2383 cases of PCP had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Revised guidelines for PCP prophylaxis published in 1995 will hopefully provide a better means for preventing this deadly infection in children with AIDS. In 1994, a clinical trial (ACTG 076) found that the risk of perinatal transmission could be reduced by two‐thirds with the use of a zidovudine regimen given antenatally, during labor and delivery, and postnatally to the infant. The US Public Health Service published guidelines based on these results, recommending voluntary HIV counseling and testing for all pregnant women in the USA and zidovudine therapy for those women found to be HIV‐infected. Since implementation of these guidelines, cases of perinatally acquired AIDS in children have begun to decrease. Adequate resources for provision of care, outreach to women who do not receive prenatal care, training of healthcare personnel and attention to the many social and psychological needs of HIV‐infected women and their children are key factors for further reduction of HIV infection in children.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Epidemiology Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 1997


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