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Burden of HIV Highest for Blacks, CDC Reports
Date:2/3/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Although blacks make up only 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 50.3 percent of all diagnosed cases of HIV, federal health officials reported Thursday.

The rate of HIV diagnosis among black men is eight times that of whites, and the rate for black women is 19 times that of whites, finds a new analysis of data from 37 states by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"What this study confirms is the severe and disproportionate burden of disease borne by African Americans when it comes to HIV," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

Compared to Hispanic men, black men have twice the rate of HIV infection, and black women are four times as likely as Hispanic women to have an HIV diagnosis, according to the Feb. 4 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The reasons for these disparities are complex, Fenton said. "We are not looking at one core issue. There are many factors interacting with each other at different levels within the society," he said.

For one thing, the background prevalence of the AIDS-causing virus is higher in the black community, he said.

"This higher background prevalence really continues to drive transmission within the community, because it increases the probability of someone coming into contact with HIV, even with low-risk behaviors," Fenton said.

Sharing drug materials and having unprotected sex are key ways to spread HIV.

Fenton said there is also a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the black community, noting other STDs facilitate the transmission of HIV.

Disparities in access to health care and poverty also contribute to the increased risk of HIV among blacks, Fenton explained.

High rates of male imprisonment are another
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