HIV Disproportionately Affecting Blacks in U.S., Fauci Says
HIV/AIDS is disproportionately affecting blacks in the U.S., with almost half of all new infections occurring in the population, Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently, Reuters reports. According to Fauci's statement, which was released to mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Saturday, blacks comprise 12% of the U.S. population but account for almost 50% of all people living with HIV in the country. Fauci pointed to the majority black city of Washington, D.C., where one in 20 residents is living with HIV -- about the same proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, one in 50 district residents has developed AIDS, according to Fauci.
Fauci said the "shocking statistics would be tragic anywhere but are particularly inexcusable in a wealthy country such as the United States." He added that it is "crucial" for blacks and all U.S. residents to follow HIV testing recommendations from CDC and the American College of Physicians. Reuters reports that statistics show that 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, of whom 20% are unaware of their status -- increasing the odds of transmission and the risk of becoming ill without treatment. Fauci said that scientific evidence has shown that initiating treatment for HIV "as early as possible ... appears to improve the odds of staying healthier longer." However, he added that "[t]reatment is no substitute for prevention" and that NIAID and its partners are "working to develop and validate new methods to protect against HIV infection."
According to Reuters, CDC in 2006 reported that more new HIV infections occur among young black men who have sex with men than any other group in the U.S. and that black women acquired new HIV infections at 15 times the rate for white women. Reuters also reports that NIAID is conducting HIV/AIDS research with an aim of benefiting blacks (Reuters, 2/6).
Fauci's statement is available online.