AIDS cases in women represent about 10 per cent of the total AIDS cases in the United States (see Table 3.1). In New York City women represent about 15 per cent of the total cases (see Table 3.2). Since there are fewer infected women than men there is less information available about how HIV affects women. Research studies generally exclude women and drug users by design so that little data is available for those treating HIV-infected women’s medical problems. On a psychosocial level, women are more isolated and have fewer supports and services available to them which are tailored to their needs; they have to integrate themselves into services created for men.
The racial/ethnic imbalance in the statistics is startling. Minorities, predominantly Black and Hispanic women, are over-represented while White women are under-represented. Minority women are the poorest women in the United States and they are shouldering a greater burden with HIV/AIDS. In a racist country, such as the United States, minority groups suffer from all kinds of discrimination and deprivation, particularly economic, vocational and educational deprivation, which puts them at an extreme disadvantage in society. Medical care for the poor is hard to access and is often of questionable quality. Many are now homeless, a status from which it is almost impossible to recover, particularly in New York City where housing for the poor is unavailable. Minorities are shouldering the major bulk of the paediatric AIDS cases. In New York State 54 per cent of paediatric cases are Black, 35 per cent are Hispanic, while only 11 per cent are White. In the US 56 per cent of paediatric cases are Black, 26 per cent are Hispanic, while 21 per cent are White. In some neighbourhoods, such as Harlem, one senses an entire age group is missing—men and women aged 20-40 years—a group which has already died.
The age groups of women affected by HIV (Table 3.1) illustrate that the largest group of women are in the 25-44 age group, the childbearing years,