The rate of HIV infection was especially steep among the least well-off. For example, 2.4 percent of people living below the poverty line were infected with HIV versus 1.2 percent of those living above the poverty line, the team found.
Those rates are substantially higher than the national average of HIV infection, which is estimated at 0.45 percent of the population.
There were no significant differences in prevalence of HIV prevalence by race or ethnicity in low-income urban areas, the researchers add. Prevalence was 2.1 percent for blacks, 2.1 percent for Hispanics and 1.7 percent for whites.
That's contrary to statistics for the United States as a whole, which show that HIV is characterized by wide racial and ethnic disparities. Among blacks, HIV rates are almost eight times higher than among whites and among Hispanics the rate is almost three times higher than whites, Denning's team noted.
"Poverty may account for some of the [nationwide] racial/ethnic disparity," Mermin noted. But other factors linked to low income can also contribute to HIV, the researchers said. These include limited access to health care, which can reduce the use of HIV testing and prevention services; drug abuse, which can increase risky sexual behavior; and high incarceration rates, which can adversely affect relationships.
During the press conference, Denning noted that rates of HIV infection among the inner-city poor was highest in cities in the Northeast and lowest in the West and Mid-West.
The report provides insight into factors that seem to be driving HIV transmission among heterosexuals, who account for 31 percent of new infections each year, the researchers say.
Each year more than 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV, Fenton said. "More than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV and nearly 18,000 people AIDS still die each year in the United States," he said.
In the U.S., 53 percent of new H
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