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AIDS Leading Killer of New York City Men Ages 30 to 44: Researcher

May 1, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ AIDS has become the leading killer in New York City of men aged 30 to 44 and women aged 25 to 29, a public health researcher said Thursday.

″It’s incredible that AIDS is now a bigger killer of men 40-to-44 than coronary diseases,″ said Dr. Alan R. Kristal, an epidemiologist with the New York City Department of Health.

Kristal is researching deaths from AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - and what he called the disease’s profound effect on mortality statistics among New York City’s overall population.

AIDS, a usually fatal illness, is caused by a virus which attacks the body’s immune system, leaving it susceptible to a spectrum of infections and cancers.

Most often transmitted through sexual contact, AIDS also can be transmitted by transfusions of blood or blood products, the sharing of contaminated hypodermic needles, and can be passed from mother to child at or before birth.

Meanwhile, a new study of the effects of AIDS on children of women diagnosed as having been exposed to the virus has found that apparently healthy mothers could transmit the infection to their children.

That study and one by Kristal using statistics of AIDS deaths in New York City from 1980 through 1984 were published in Friday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

The National Centers for Disease Control at Atlanta said 20,088 cases of AIDS - with 10,800 of them fatal - had been reported nationally through Monday, said CDC spokesman Chuck Fallis.

Kristal said in a telephone interview that AIDS continues to be confined almost exclusively to homosexual men and intravenous drug users.

″I think it’s still pretty tough to get infected with AIDS unless you go out there and try, unless you share (hypodermic) needles or become an active homosexual,″ he said.

Kristal said 80 percent of the women who contracted AIDS got it through the use of tainted hypodermic needles. Only a small portion of the victims developed the disease from heterosexual contact with an AIDS carrier, he said.

Still, he said, his research found that AIDS’ has become the third-leading cause of all deaths among New York City men aged 15 through 54.

″It’s absolutely profound from the standpoint of an epidemiologist - the fact that it’s a disease that first manifested itself in 1980, affects only a small portion of the population, and yet has dramatically changed the way a city must look at ... the delivery and costs of its health care.″

He said nearly 3,800 New York City residents had died of AIDS or AIDS- related diseases, and that about 2,000 of those deaths occurred in 1985 alone.

Dr. Harold Jaffe, an AIDS researcher for the CDC, said the study of New York City AIDS deaths ″is telling us that at least in some parts of the country, AIDS is having a tremendous impact on the overall health of a city.″

″It means that medical costs for AIDS patients are going up and some of those costs will be borne locally,″ Jaffe said.

Kristal said his research showed that AIDS in 1985 had become the leading cause of death among New York women aged 25 to 29, and second-leading cause of death for women aged 30 to 34.

In the study involving children, researchers at the Cornell University- affili ated North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset, N.Y. examined a group of 36 infants and young children born to women who showed evidence of being exposed to AIDS.

Most of the mothers showed no AIDS symptoms, but the study found that seven of the children had no symptoms of AIDS, while 29 showed symptoms ranging from mild to severe infections.

The researchers said a significant finding was that some of the children showing severe AIDS symptoms were born to women who had no AIDS symptoms.

″Most of the children who show active symptoms of AIDS probably will die before they get to child-bearing age,″ Jaffe said.

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