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As many as 80,000 women of child-bearing age in the United States may be infected with the virus that causes aids, a new study concludes.

The study, which was published in last week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also estimates that about 1,800 babies born to these women each year will have the human immunodeficiency virus that causes the disease.

The report is based on the results of anonymous blood tests on more than 1.8 million infants born between 1988 and 1990 in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Since the antibodies that are measured in a newborn come mostly from the mother, the test is a better measure of the mother's hiv status than the child's. But health officials believe about one-third of the babies who are born hiv-positive eventually will develop aids.

Women in New York, New Jersey, and Florida had the highest rates of hiv infection, the study found. And depending on the state, black women were 5 to 15 times more likely to be hiv-positive than were white women, the study found.

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