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AIDS expert says global strategy needed to combat feminization of HIV/AIDS

Thomas C. Quinn, M.D., a Johns Hopkins physician and scientist, who has spent the best part of the last 25 years leading major efforts to combat HIV and AIDS throughout the world, is calling for global strategies and resources to confront the rapid "feminization" of the AIDS pandemic.

Quinn, a professor of infectious diseases at Hopkins and a senior investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, reports that women have in the last 20 years moved from being those least affected by HIV to those in whom the disease is spreading fastest.

According to Quinn women now make up nearly half of the 40 million people worldwide currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and in some developing countries, women represent the vast majority of those living with HIV/AIDS.

At the start of the pandemic in the early 1980s, men accounted for almost 90 percent of cases in developed countries. In the United States from 1999 to 2003, the yearly increase in AIDS cases rose by 15 percent, but only by 1 percent in men.

He says that now AIDS is having the most profound impact on women.

Internationally, Quinn and his team are renowned for leading clinical trials of the first effective treatments that prevent HIV from replicating, and helping to establish laboratory and treatment facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India and Uganda, and counselling other governments across Africa and Asia about control efforts.

Now he argues that because of the increasing and disproportionate numbers becoming infected, and the social consequences of so many young mothers dying and leaving behind children who may also be infected as well as orphaned, women deserve a separate strategy.

He also points out that medical research suggests hormonal and developmental factors place young women at greater risk than men for contracting the virus when exposed to it.

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Source:News-Medical Net


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