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Continuing racial differences in HIV prevalence in US
Date:10/6/2009

HIV prevalence among African Americans is ten times greater than the prevalence among whites. This racial disparity in HIV prevalence has persisted in the face of both governmental and private actions, involving many billions of dollars, to combat HIV. In the November 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examine factors responsible for the stark racial disparities in HIV infection in the U.S. and the now concentrated epidemic among African Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 45% of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2006 occurred among non-Hispanic blacks. Among the 13,184 adolescents and young adults in The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative study, HIV seroprevalence was almost 0.5% among blacks 20 times that of whites.

While individual-level sexual behaviors can contribute to the disparity in HIV prevalence, these observed differences in individual behaviors do not fully explain the marked racial differences in HIV infection prevalence. Even when comparisons are stratified by education, poverty index, marital status, age at first sexual intercourse, lifetime number of sex partners, history of male homosexual activity, illicit drug use, injection drug use, and HSV-2 antibody positivity, HIV prevalence among African Americans exceeds that of whites, typically substantially.

The authors suggest a number of social factors that may contribute to the difference in infection rates. Because of racially segregated mixing patterns and the much higher HIV seroprevalence in African Americans, exposure to the virus is more likely among blacks than among whites for any given number of partners or frequency of sexual contacts. The prevalence of concurrent sexual partnerships (relationships that overlap in time) is higher among U.S. blacks than whites and this can spread
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Contact: AJPM Editorial Office
eAJPM@ucsd.edu
858-457-7292
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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