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Poor people suffer disproportionately from chronic infections
Date:2/5/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich---Kids from low-income families are much more likely to suffer from serious infections such as herpes or hepatitis A than their counterparts in wealthier households.

Two recent University of Michigan studies show a startlingly strong correlation between income and chronic infection in both adults and children, with lower income populations suffering much higher rates of chronic infections and clusters of infections than higher income families.

"There is a large body of research showing that people of lower socioeconomic status are at greater risk for numerous chronic diseases," said Allison Aiello, senior author on the studies and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. "In this study, we found that lower income populations are also more likely to be exposed to a cluster of persistent infections."

For example, in the context of six infections measured, results showed that while the higher income populations might have been exposed to one or two of these common infections, lower income populations in the same age range may have been exposed to as many as four or five. This is concerning since most of these persistent infections are carried throughout life and have been implicated in several chronic diseases, Aiello said.

For instance, researchers looked at H. Pylori, a bacterium that causes peptic ulcer disease; hepatitis A and B, which can cause liver disease; and herpes simplex 1 and cytomegalovirus (CMV), both implicated in cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and other ailments.

Similarly, there is a large difference in the prevalence of infection among people who hold only a high school diploma when compared to those who have a four-year college degree, Aiello said.

For instance, in the adults study, results showed:

  • Individuals without a high school education had roughly 50 percent higher odds of having an additional infec
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-764-1552
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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