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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AIDS Epidemic 'Is Changing'

ATLANTA , Georgia -- Declaring AIDS the leading cause of death among American men between the ages of 25 and 44, the director of the Centers for Disease Control says the disease has moved dramatically into the heterosexual community, and that the transmission rate there is growing.


In the United States, 400,000 people have contracted AIDS since 1981 and 250,000 people have died from it. Increasingly the victims are intravenous drug users and their sexual partners.


"In December 1984, three-fourths of AIDS cases were men who have sex with men," CDC Director David Satcher told a gathering of Atlanta business and labor leaders. "This year, that group makes up only a little more than half of all cases. So, you see, the epidemic is changing."


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is the leading cause of death among men between 25 and 44 and the fourth leading cause in women in the same age group -- behind cancer, accidental injury and heart disease, according to preliminary 1993 data compiled by the CDC.


Among young black women, who make up 82 percent of American women with AIDS, it is the leading cause of death.


From 1985 to 1993, the proportion of people with AIDS acquired through heterosexual transmission increased from 2 percent to 7 percent.


Satcher spoke at a World AIDS Day conference held to promote adoption of AIDS awareness and education programs in the workplace.