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AIDS Endemic in Parts of New York, says Report - 2002-08-14

According to a report Wednesday, HIV/AIDS has reached endemic proportions in certain areas of New York City. Minority women and impoverished communities are especially hard hit.

The report states that in New York City, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in women ages 24-34, and the second-leading cause of death for women ages 34-44. It is the fourth-leading cause of death for Puerto Rican and African American women. More than 80 percent of all new infections, in fact, are found among African Americans and Latinos.

The report also makes it clear that poverty plays a major role in the spread of HIV/AIDS in New York City. In the city's lowest-income areas, rates of infection are so pervasive that "AIDS has become a condition touching almost every resident of the community."

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli of the United Way, the non-profit organization that issued the report, says that recent successes in HIV/AIDS treatments have created a dangerous misconception among citizens that the disease is no longer a major problem in the United States.

"Far from being won, the battle against AIDS is just beginning in many communities," said Ms. Barrios-Paoli. "And our demographics [here in NY] look very similar to demographics in sub-Saharan Africa, if you look at some of the communities that are the most impacted."

The report makes specific recommendations on how to reverse the disturbing trends. At the top of the list, are aggressive community outreach programs to help young people handle situations that put them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and making those at highest risk of transmitting the virus aware of the devastating impact of their behavior.