Minorities Disproportionately Affected by HIV/AIDS, Most Recent New York State Statistics Show
From June 2000 to December 2000, 16,866 new cases of HIV or AIDS were identified among New York state residents, with the majority of cases occurring among New York City residents and minorities, according to statistics released Friday by the state Department of Health. Newsday reports that the statistics, which demonstrate how the disease "continues to devastate the city's minority communities," are the first to include information on the number of people with HIV in the state. Previously, the health department only collected data on AIDS cases, but a newly implemented law requires doctors to report new HIV infections to the state. Some of the main findings include the following:
- In the seven-month period, 12,144 New York City residents were identified with HIV or AIDS, 2,145 of whom found out they were HIV-positive for the first time. Of those, 1,713 (80%) were black, Latino or Asian.
- Of the 3,497 people who were newly diagnosed with AIDS in the city, 2,824 (81%) were from those three minority communities.
- The remaining 6,502 reported cases were city residents who knew they were infected but reported their condition to the health department for the first time.
- In areas outside of the city, 4,722 people were identified with HIV or AIDS (Ramirez, Newsday, 4/27). Among those with new HIV-positive test results in this group, 52% were black and 25% were Hispanic. Among newly identified AIDS cases in this group, 46% were black and 24% were Hispanic.
- Of the 16,866 state residents identified with HIV or AIDS, 34% of new HIV infections were among women, as were 27% of new AIDS cases.
Not a Surprise
The new figures are somewhat limited in scope because the state can only gauge new infections from people who undergo an HIV test. But the data "clearly demonstrate once again that the disease that emerged in this country among gay white men now primarily affects people of color and a significant number of women," Newsday reports. "The HIV reporting system allows us to document the full extent of HIV/AIDS in our state and to access additional federal dollars to support New York's comprehensive continuum of services," State Health Commissioner Antonia Novello said, adding that the new data system resulted in three times the number of cases that would have been reported under the old system. HIV/AIDS advocates, citing privacy concerns, had opposed state efforts to monitor new HIV cases (Rabin, Newsday, 4/27). Dennis deLeon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, attributed the disproportionate rates among minorities to greater intravenous drug use and decreased government funding for prevention programs for blacks and Latinos. "When you look at the little resources given to these communities, it doesn't come as a surprise. The groups haven't been able to do their job in getting the prevention message out there. We have a serious health crisis on our hands," he said (Ramirez, Newsday, 4/27).