Minorities Delay HIV Treatment Initiation Longer Than Whites, Study Says
African-American and Hispanic Medicaid recipients delay HIV treatment initiation longer than their white peers and use the medications less consistently, a study in the December issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows, Reuters Health reports (Huggins, Reuters Health, 12/26). Dr. Stephen Crystal of Rutgers University and colleagues examined data from 2,459 people with AIDS who participated in the non-HMO New Jersey Medicaid program. The beneficiaries' antiretroviral drug use was followed from March 1996 to the end of 1998 (Crystal et al., Journal of General Internal Medicine, December 2001). More than half (58%) of the participants were African-American, about 25% were white and 19% were Hispanic. The researchers found that on average Hispanics waited 17 months after diagnosis to begin treatment, while African Americans waited 15 months, 10 and eight months longer than their white peers, respectively. In addition, injection drug users waited about two months longer to initiate treatment than their non-injection drug using peers. The researchers found that by 1998, 65% of participants were still taking their medications, with 40% of African Americans reporting discontinuation of their antiretroviral use compared to 30% of whites. "African Americans still seem to experience barriers not just to initiating these therapies, but perhaps more critically to continuing them consistently," Crystal said, adding, "The therapies are hard to stay on consistently, particularly for people with lots of other life problems, and we need to develop better support interventions and other programs to help people adhere to these regimens over time" (Reuters Health, 12/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.