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In San Diego, Hispanics Now Dominate HIV/TB Cases

Shift in disease profile suggests need for U.S., Mexico cooperation, expert says

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanics account for 80 percent of the cases of tuberculosis/HIV co-infection in San Diego, which represents a significant change in the racial profile of the disease, a new study shows.

"While the overall numbers are modest, our study shows that what used to be mostly a disease of white and black patients in San Diego is now largely a disease of Hispanics," Dr. Timothy Rodwell, an associated physician/fellow in the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, said in a university news release.

This shift "indicates that the benefits of prevention and treatment of TB and HIV over the last decade have been uneven in the different ethnic/racial groups in this region," Rodwell added.

He and his colleagues analyzed 5,172 TB cases recorded in San Diego County between 1993 and 2007 and found that 8.8 percent of those patients were also infected with HIV. There wasn't a significant change in the number of TB/HIV cases during this period. However, there was a significant increase in the proportion of cases among Hispanics, while the proportion of cases among whites and blacks decreased.

TB/HIV patients in San Diego are now most likely to be Hispanic males, 30 to 49 years old, who use injectable drugs, the researchers said.

To tackle this disparity, they said, would take a combined effort from U.S. and Mexican authorities.

"With more than 40,000 people crossing the border between Mexico and San Diego on a daily basis, and our finding that the majority of new TB/HIV co-infection cases occurring among Hispanics that were born in Mexico, it is clear that future interventions to address this health disparity will need to be bi-national in nature," Rodwell said.

The study is published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about TB/HIV.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, Feb. 10, 2010

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