AIDS Cases Increasing Among Women in Kentucky; Black Women Have Significantly Higher Prevalence Than White Women
Women account for almost one-quarter of people diagnosed annually with HIV in Kentucky, and black women have an AIDS prevalence that is almost 19 times higher than white women, the AP/Cincinnati Post reports. The proportion of new AIDS cases diagnosed among women increased from none in 1982 to 24% of cases in 2003 and 21% of cases in 2004, according to the AP/Post. Heterosexual intercourse is the most common means of HIV transmission among women in Kentucky, the AP/Post reports. More than 400 women in the state are living with AIDS. According to the AP/Post, black women are at an increased risk of HIV transmission because of higher rates of intravenous drug use or because they are more likely to have male partners who have been in prison, where HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are higher than among the general population. Black women also are more likely than white women to have low income levels or lack access to health care, meaning that they might wait longer to receive an HIV test, according to the AP/Post. Although some people have said that Kentucky has not conducted adequate HIV prevention efforts, state health officials have said that they are beginning to address the spread of HIV among women in the state. According to Vicki Johnson, an AIDS coordinator for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the state has a budget of $1 million for HIV prevention efforts, but plans to develop a media campaign aimed at educating women about HIV/AIDS did not materialize. "We can do much better, and I think we're going to be doing that in the near future," Johnson said, adding, "Unfortunately, it's going to come down to funding." According to the AP/Post, state health officials plan to launch an initiative aimed to encourage black women to engage in healthy sexual relationships (AP/Cincinnati Post, 12/4).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.