Newly Diagnosed HIV/AIDS Cases in U.S. Disproportionately High Among Blacks, MMWR Report Says
Black men and women accounted for nearly 50% of the newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. from 2001 to 2005, despite accounting for 13% of the country's population, according to a report published in the March 9 edition of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Reuters South Africa reports (Bigg, Reuters South Africa, 3/9). For the report, Tonji Durant -- an epidemiologist at CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention -- and colleagues analyzed data from 33 states regarding HIV/AIDS diagnoses between 2001 and 2005, Bloomberg/Long Island Newsday reports. The researchers found that during the study time period, 51% of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases were among black adults and adolescents (Bloomberg/Long Island Newsday, 3/9). The report also found that blacks accounted for 40% of AIDS-related deaths and 61% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among people ages 13 to 24 (Reuters South Africa, 3/9). According to the report, black men were seven times more likely to receive a new HIV/AIDS diagnosis than white men and twice as likely as black women. AIDS-related illnesses were the fourth-leading cause of death among blacks ages 25 to 44 in the U.S. in 2004, the study found. According to the study, the leading cause of HIV transmission among men of all ages and races was male-to-male sexual contact, followed by high-risk heterosexual contact. Among all women, heterosexual sex was responsible for 80% of the HIV transmission, the study found (Bloomberg/Long Island Newsday, 3/9). According to Robert Janssen, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, blacks do not engage in riskier sexual behavior compared with other groups, but the population's HIV/AIDS infection rates mean that blacks who have sex with other blacks are more likely to get HIV than people in other ethnic groups. Janssen added that the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in the black community has had negative effects. "Certainly (there is) a sense of stigma related to homophobia," he said, adding, "There is certainly a stigma around how HIV is transmitted. There has not been a recognition in the community of how serious the problem is" (Reuters South Africa, 3/9).
CDC Increases HIV Prevention Efforts Among Blacks
In response to the disproportionate effect that HIV/AIDS has on blacks in the U.S., CDC is increasing its efforts to provide "known, effective HIV-prevention interventions and to implement new, improved and culturally appropriate HIV/AIDS strategies," Reuters Health reports. The program, titled "A Heightened National Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis Among African-Americans," aims to expand prevention services into areas that need them the most; increase opportunities to diagnose and treat HIV; and to dedicate more research to developing new behavioral, social and structural HIV interventions. To reduce HIV transmission among blacks, CDC plans to work with leaders in black religious, media, civic, entertainment, educational and business communities. The agency also will work with people who have not yet been involved in prevention efforts to address community awareness, testing, behavior and perceptions of the disease, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 3/8). As part of CDC's efforts, the agency organized a meeting for black leaders on Thursday. Federal allocations to CDC to directly fund community organizations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS among blacks have increased tenfold since 1988 and now total $30 million, while total program funding is $300 million, according to CDC (Reuters South Africa, 3/9).
The report is available online.