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Poverty Driving HIV's Spread Among Urban Heterosexuals: Report
Date:7/19/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- In the poorer neighborhoods of America's cities, about 1 in every 50 heterosexual adults are now infected with HIV -- a much higher rate than is seen in the general population, U.S. health officials report.

The finding suggests that poverty plays a crucial role in spread of the virus that causes AIDS, according to a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The link between low income and a higher risk of getting infected with HIV held regardless of race or ethnicity, the researchers found.

"This study shows that we can't look at HIV in isolation from the environment in which people live," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said during a noon press conference held Monday.

"It also points to an urgent need to prioritize HIV prevention efforts in economically disadvantaged communities," he said.

The report is slated to be presented at the International AIDS Conference being held this week in Vienna, Austria.

The study shows there is a generalized HIV epidemic among the inner-city poor in the United States, Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said during the press conference.

"We need to reach everyone in that defined community with HIV prevention information and intervention, not just those at highest risk," he said.

For the report, a team led by Dr. Paul Denning, a medical epidemiologist in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, collected data on more than 9,000 heterosexual adults living in poorer sections of 23 American cities. These people participated in the 2006-2007 heterosexual section of the CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, which monitors HIV risk, testing and prevention services.

Overall, 2.1 percent of those surveyed were infected with HIV, th
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