- Black Americans are diagnosed with HIV at about four times the rate of all other racial groups combined, new data from the CDC shows.
- Some of the factors that contribute to higher HIV transmission rates among black Americans are lack of health care, discrimination, lack of awareness of HIV status, poverty, and stigma.
- The CDC, in partnership with the federal government, has launched an initiative to end the HIV epidemic within the next 10 years.
While progress has been made in containing HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) nationwide, the progress has not been the same. Disparities between new HIV diagnoses persist, with black Americans being diagnosed at a higher rate than others, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests.
Black Americans are diagnosed with HIV at about four times the rate of all other racial groups combined, new data shows. Black adults account for 43 percent of HIV diagnoses nationwide.
Additionally, the CDC found that black adults had higher rates of new HIV diagnoses in neighborhoods with the highest Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). The index uses census data to identify potential negative impacts on community health caused by external factors and stressors, such as natural or man-made disasters and disease outbreaks.
The health divide: HIV
What’s driving higher interest rates?
Using data obtained from the National HIV Surveillance System (NHSS) and the 2018 CDC SVI, CDC researchers examined 13,807 diagnoses of HIV infection among black adults in 2018 and the association between HIV infection and social vulnerability.
“Study finds that 52% of black adults diagnosed with HIV live in areas of the country that score high on the Social Vulnerability Index — often residentially segregated neighborhoods, made up of predominantly black people,” CDC Epidemiologist and lead study author André Dailey told well.
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Black adults in neighborhoods with higher SVI scores were 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than people living in neighborhoods with lower SVI scores.
“While social vulnerability does not explain all variance in HIV diagnoses, research suggests that black adults in neighborhoods with high SVI scores may find it more difficult to access HIV prevention and care due to a variety of factors,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, MPH, director of the CDC HIV Prevention Unit, told VigorTip via email.
These factors include:
- lack of access to health care
- Lack of awareness of HIV status
A history of racial discrimination and residential segregation was associated with factors associated with higher social vulnerability and higher rates of HIV diagnosis. Apartheid restricted blacks’ access to vital resources and affected the quality of communities.
what does this mean to you
The CDC outlines resources to support people living with HIV. Call the HIV/AIDS toll free hotline to contact the agency to find out what services you are eligible for. If you cannot afford health insurance or medical services, you may be eligible for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program for medical services.
Addressing high rates of HIV infection
Despite efforts to reduce transmission, HIV continues to disproportionately affect Black Americans and other vulnerable populations. Daskalakis said the study underscores the ongoing and urgent need to address the social determinants of disparity and provide better HIV prevention and care for those most in need.
This looks like addressing:
- precarious housing
- Limited access to healthcare
- substance use disorder
- transportation service
- HIV stigma
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the Ending the HIV Epidemic in America initiative, which aims to reduce new HIV infections by 2030 by leveraging scientific data on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and outbreak response. The number of people decreased by 90%.
Daskalakis explained that through the initiative, the CDC and other government health agencies are collaborating to allocate “resources to communities that can benefit from critical, science-based HIV prevention strategies that scale up in innovative ways. scale to reach the population equitably”.
“Developing and prioritizing interventions that address the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age are critical to addressing the increased risk of HIV infection among black adults living in communities with higher SVI scores,” Dar Skalakis said.
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If implemented properly, “these interventions may help prevent HIV transmission and reduce disparities among black adults,” Daskalakis added.
What do these interventions look like? Some of these include key prevention strategies such as expanding the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in settings such as STD clinics and syringe service programs.