The Role of Gender in HIV Progression

Ross G. Hewitt, MD; Nader Parsa, PhD; Lawrence Gugino, MD


AIDS Read. 2001;11(1) 

In This Article

Social and Demographic Profiles of Women With AIDS

The majority of women with AIDS in the United States are unemployed, and 83% live in households with incomes below $10,000 per year.[11] Only 14% are currently married, compared with 50% of all women in the United States aged 15 to 44 years who are married. Twenty-three percent of HIV-infected women live alone, 2% live in various facilities, and 1% are homeless. Approximately 50% have at least 1 child younger than 15 years. Similar to other population groups with AIDS in the United States, the majority of women with AIDS are from minority racial and ethnic groups, with African Americans accounting for 57%; Latinas, 20%; and whites, 23%.

In the pre-HAART era, women with symptomatic HIV disease had significantly higher levels of impairment in activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, compared with HIV-infected men, in regard to personal care needs, informal care, and utilization of formal health care services. Despite such impairment, women did not seek care earlier in the course of disease.[12] Use of help sources differed significantly by gender; women were more likely than men to rely on formal sources and more likely to receive help from extended family members (especially daughters). Hospital days to death, home care costs, and total cost of care were all higher for women. Both personal care needs and the structure of social support systems appear to differ by gender and may help explain observed differences in use of formal services. Before initiating HAART, women may be in greater need of support services because of their functional status impairments or gaps in the informal support systems available to them.


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