AIDS is the main cause of death and disease among women ages 15 and 44, according to research by the World Health Organization (WHO) as reported by The Associated Press. This is the first WHO study focused on global women's health.

According to the study, unprotected sex is a major risk factor for women of childbearing age in developing countries, where women often have little access to contraceptives.

The report also shows how women worldwide face health care inequities throughout their lives. Diseases that only occur in girls are not identified because they don't affect boys. Because of cultural norms, many societies prioritize the well-being of males. Therefore, clinical trials and medicines are targeted toward treating men.

WHO statistics from 2004 show that nearly 15 percent of deaths in women occurred during maternity. “We will not see a significant improvement in the health of women until they are no longer recognized as second-class citizens in many parts of the world,” said WHO chief Margaret Chan.