AIDS, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans since the first cases were reported in 1981, has become the second leading killer of young U.S. men, federal health officials said.

In 1988, AIDS was the third leading cause of death among men ages 25 to 44 and by 1989, the disease had become the second leading cause of death for that age group, surpassing heart disease, cancer, suicide and homicide, officials said Thursday."Unintentional injuries," which includes homicides, remained the leading cause of death for that age group in 1989, the last year for which figures were available. In 1989, 13,350 U.S. men ages 25 to 44 died of AIDS-related causes.

"The (AIDS) epidemic is really taking a toll now," said Dr. Ruth Berkelman, chief of AIDS surveillance of the federal Centers for Disease Control.

The disease also was taking an increasing toll among women, who were largely spared the brunt of the disease in the first years of the epidemic.

By 1988, AIDS and other infections caused by the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, ranked eighth among causes of death of women ages 25 to 44, the CDC said.

"In 1991, based on current trends, HIV infection/AIDS is likely to rank among the five leading causes of death in this population," the CDC said.

Of the 15,493 AIDS cases in women listed with the CDC through 1990, over half were reported in the past two years. About half of the infected women were intravenous drug abusers and an increasing proportion were sex partners of drug abusers, Berkelman said.

Overall in 1989, AIDS accounted for 10 percent of all young adult deaths, Berkelman said.

Nearly one-third of the 100,777 AIDS patients who succumbed to the disease from 1981 through 1990 died last year, and the death toll will continue to mount in coming years, she said. "We project that we will see another 100,000 deaths in three years," Berkelman said.