The Top 5 Leading Causes of Disease for Females 15 to 29
Cause of Disease
Number of Females Afflicted
Unipolar Depressive Disorders
STD's Including HIV
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By the end of 2005, women accounted for nearly half of all people living with AIDS worldwide, and also represent almost 60% of infections in sub-Saharan Africa. New studies underscore the disproportionate impact of the AIDS epidemic on women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, three women are HIV-infected for every two men, however among young people (15 to 24 years), the ratio widens considerably to three young women for every young man.
Depressive disorders, as a single diagnostic category, are the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression without periods of elation or mania is sometimes referred to as unipolar depression because a person's mood remains on one pole. The World Health Organization's "Global Burden of Disease" study found that that mental illness, including suicide, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as in Western countries like Canada and The United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers together.
Schizophrenia is the most chronic and disabling of the mental disorders, affecting about 1 percent of women and men worldwide. In the U.S., an estimated 2.2 million adults ages 18 and older, about half of them women, have schizophrenia. Women are generally affected by the disease in their 20s or early 30s. Women may also have more depressive symptoms, paranoia, and auditory hallucinations than men and tend to respond better to typical anti-psychotic medications. A significant proportion of women with schizophrenia experience increased symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) rank in the top five disease categories for which adults in developing countries seek health-care services, with sub-Saharan Africa carrying the largest burden. Globally, approximately 333 million new cases of curable STDs occur each year. STD's often lead to infertility which can have social consequences for women such as abusive behaviour, divorce and commercial sex. Economically, the cost of diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases can exceed the per capita national health care budgets of many low-income countries.
Although the prevalence of chronic psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders in women may be less than that of depression, anxiety and related conditions, they pose an immense problem in management and rehabilitation. Bipolar disorder tends to be chronic and sometimes unresponsive to treatment and can result in disability in various aspects of day to day functioning. Above all, the stigma attached to these illnesses and the social consequences attached to them, make it a serious public health issue for women worldwide.
Sources: WHO report: Injury, a leading cause of the global burden of disease 2000.
List Notes: All Statistics are for the year 2000. This WHO study combines mortality data from national vital registration systems with information obtained from surveys, censuses,epidemiological studies and health service data.