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AIDS DEATHS OF WOMEN SKYROCKET

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AIDS is rapidly becoming a major killer of American women of childbearing age and by next year will probably be the fifth leading cause of death among them, scientists reported Wednesday.

The AIDS death rate is dramatically higher among young black women than whites, and the disease is far more prevalent in the Northeast than in other regions, the scientists said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.AIDS already claims more black women aged 15 to 44 in New York state and New Jersey than any other health problem, according to the researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control.

"We've known how serious the problem is in New Jersey," Christine Grand, deputy state health commissioner, said by telephone Tuesday from Trenton. "However, even those working in the field are shocked to see how high the standing is vis-a-vis all causes of death."

Nationwide, among women aged 15 to 44, deaths from AIDS soared from 18 in 1980 to 1,430 in 1988, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the researchers said.

The death rate quadrupled between 1985 and 1988, when AIDS accounted for 3 percent of all the deaths of women in that age group, the researchers said.