The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in children is closely linked to infected adult family members, usually the mother. Thus, a brief analysis of the epidemiology of AIDS in adults is necessary for the understanding of future trends in pediatric AIDS.

AIDS was initially reported to occur in homosexual men. Subsequently, it was noted to occur in intravenous (IV) drug-abusing individuals, including women. The infection of women with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the causative agent of AIDS, has, however, not been restricted to IV-drug abusing women. It was soon recognized that a bidirectional heterosexual transmission does occur, with male to female transmission apparently being more efficient than female to male transmission. This form of sexual transmission may occur in more than 40% of regular sexual partners. Nationwide, the percentage of women with AIDS has doubled in 2 years to nearly 7%. Whether the female to male ratio of patients with AIDS will reach 1:1, as in Africa, is yet to be seen. New demographic studies have shown that AIDS in women, especially in those of childbearing age, is increasing dramatically. In New York City the leading cause of death in 1987 for women between the ages of 24 and 35 years was AIDS.

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