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Sociodemographic and Behavioral Characteristics of African-American Women With HIV and AIDS in Los Angeles County, 1990-1997

Wohl Amy Rock; Lu, Sharon; Odem, Sylvia; Sorvillo, Frank; Pegues, Clare F.; Kerndt, Peter R.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 1st, 1998

Summary:African-American women have the highest AIDS rate of any racial/ethnic group of women in both Los Angeles County (LAC), California and in the United States. Limited population-based epidemiologic studies of African-American women with HIV and AIDS describe this group and examine the factors associated with the excessive rates. Interview data collected from 1990 to 1997 on a population-based sample of AIDS cases and a group of HIV-infected women in LAC were analyzed to highlight the sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics of African-American women. This group of African-American women with HIV or AIDS in LAC were unemployed (88%), single mothers (64%), living on public assistance (86%) with annual household incomes <$10,000 U.S. (76%). A history of crack use predominated (50%). Compared with women of other races with HIV and AIDS, African-American women reported more sexual partners; reported more infections with sexually transmitted diseases; sought treatment for their HIV infection later; were more likely to trade sex; and were almost five times more likely to have ever used crack cocaine. HIV prevention for African-American women in LAC should focus on improving selfesteem and negotiation skills within the context of the crack cocaine culture and the disadvantaged social and economic situation described.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Amy Rock Wohl, HIV Epidemiology Program, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, 600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 805, Los Angeles, CA 90005, U.S.A.

Manuscript received December 3, 1997; accepted July 1, 1998.

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.