Study: Women with bisexual partners account for new HIV cases
Women who had unprotected sex with bisexual partners accounted for most of the new female HIV cases in the city last year, according to a new Health Department study.
Of the 647 women diagnosed with HIV in 2012, more than three of four — 480 — had sex with infected men, the study said.
During the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, many women contracted HIV from having sex with men who carried the deadly virus from drug use, particularly sharing needles that had contaminated blood. Or the women abused drugs themselves..
But in recent years, the transmission HIV — the immune system-destroying virus that can lead to full-blown AIDS — related to drug use has plunged as a factor in newly reported cases.
That means women are contracting HIV from men who’ve had sex with other men, officials aid.
“Men who engage in sex both with men and women can acquire HIV from a male partner and then transmit the virus to female partners,” the Centers for Disease Control said.
In one HIV study, one in three black men, one in four Hispanic men and one in seven white men reported having unprotected sex with women as well as men.
“However,” the CDC said, “these women may not have known of their male partners’ sexual activity.”
Black women accounted for two-thirds of the 647 new HIV cases. Hispanics accounted for 27 percent and whites, 7 percent.
“In 2012, the HIV diagnosis rate among black females was over three times the rate among Hispanic females and over 12 times higher than the rate among white females,” the Health Department analysis said.
Locally and nationally, black residents — both male and female — suffer the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. Health officials say both HIV and bisexual and gay sex remain taboo topics in the black community.
“Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing can also place too many African Americans at higher risk. Many at risk for infection fear stigma more than infection and may choose instead to hide their high-risk behavior rather than seek counseling and testing,” the CDC said.
Both city and federal officials have promoted condom use and HIV testing to reduce the spread of the sexually transmitted disease.
The study found that 1,578 people died from AIDS in the city in 2012, down from 1,690 in 2011.
Men still account for eight in 10 of the new cases, mostly transmitted through unprotected gay sex.
In total, there were 3,141 new cases of HIV and 1,889 full-blown AIDS cases, down from 3,404 HIV and 2,208 AIDS in 2011. The number of HIV cases dropped more than 25 percent since 2008.
There are 114,926 people believed to be living here with HIV/AIDS – up from 113,319.