More than 16,000 U.S. women have been stricken with AIDS since the epidemic began, and the number of cases appears to be increasing faster in women than in men, federal health officials reported.

Although the total number of new cases of AIDS among men remains higher, the rate among women is increasing faster, officials said Thursday.A total of 5,257 new cases of AIDS were reported among U.S. women in 1990, up from 3,948 new cases reported in 1989, representing a 33 percent increase, the federal Centers for Disease Control said.

In comparison, a total of 38,082 new cases of AIDS were reported among American men in 1990, up from 31,282 new cases reported among men in 1989, representing a 22 percent rise, the CDC said.

The CDC's Carl Campbell attributed the increase among women to more cases of AIDS resulting from heterosexual transmission among intravenous drugs users.