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Blacks Continue to Have Highest Rate of HIV Diagnosis in U.S.

SUMMARY: In advance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day this past Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a new report in the February 4, 2011, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
showing that African Americans are still much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection than any other racial/ethnic group. Black men were 8 times more likely and black women were 19 times more likely to receive an HIV diagnosis during 2008 than white men and women.

By Liz Highleyman

Blacks/African Americans have been affected disproportionately by HIV since the early years of the epidemic, the report authors noted. While they make up about 14% of the total U.S. population, blacks accounted for half of all HIV diagnoses among adolescents and adults during 2005-2008 in the 37 states with consistent names-based reporting.

The investigators used data from the National HIV Surveillance System to estimate numbers, percentages, and rates of HIV diagnoses among blacks/African Americans during this period in states with "mature" HIV surveillance systems, that is, those in operation since at least January 2005.


During 2008 black men were 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white men and twice as likely as Hispanic/Latino men.
Black women were 19 times more likely to be diagnosed than white women and 4 times more likely than Hispanic/Latino women.
Blacks accounted for 50.3% of all 156,812 HIV diagnoses during 2005-2008.
Blacks accounted for 46.4% of diagnoses among people age 25-44 and 55.7% among people in the southern U.S.
The number of new HIV diagnoses (not necessarily new infections) each year among black men increased during 2005-2008.
HIV transmissions among black men were classified most frequently as attributable to male-to-male sexual contact (61.1%), followed by heterosexual contact (23.1%), injection drug use (11.9%), and male-to-male sex/injection drug use together (3.6%).
Young men age 13-24 accounted for the largest percentage -- 30.9% -- of HIV diagnoses among black men who have sex with men.
Most black women diagnosed with HIV were exposed through heterosexual contact (85.2%), followed by injection drug use (14.0%).

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy released this past July identified reducing HIV-related health disparities as one of its 3 key goals.

"Reducing HIV risk behaviors and increasing access to testing and referral to health care can help eliminate disparities between blacks/African Americans and other racial/ethnic populations in the rates at which HIV infection is diagnosed," the report authors concluded.

"The higher rates of diagnoses among blacks/African Americans suggest that adolescents and adults from this population who are at higher risk for HIV infection might benefit from more frequent testing to facilitate earlier diagnosis," according to an accompanying editorial note. "Persons infected with HIV who know their status can be referred to medical care and treatment that can improve the quality and length of their lives and to prevention services that can reduce the risk for further transmission."

Investigator affiliation: Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC.


B Laffoon, A Satcher Johnson, S Cohen, and others (CDC). Disparities in Diagnoses of HIV Infection Between Blacks/African Americans and Other Racial/Ethnic Populations -- 37 States, 2005-2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60(4): 93-98 (abstract). February 4, 2011.




















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