-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The HIV infection rate
among low-income heterosexuals in 24 American cities with a high
prevalence of AIDS is 10 to 20 times greater than in the general
U.S. population, a new government report indicates.
Two percent of poor heterosexuals in those cities have HIV,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
researchers' analysis of National HIV Behavioral Surveillance
"More important than using drugs and prostitution, living below the poverty level, not completing high school, being unemployed, being homeless were significantly associated with increased prevalence of HIV," said one expert, Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
"Being poor and uneducated is dangerous, tragic and expensive for society," said Hirsch, who was not involved in the study.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
The link between high HIV rates and low socioeconomic status
couldn't be attributed to factors typically associated with HIV
infection risk in heterosexuals, such as crack cocaine use, being
diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, or having an
exchange sex partner, the investigators noted.
While major racial disparities are a feature of the HIV/AIDS
epidemic in the United States, the researchers found no
racial/ethnic-related differences in HIV infection rates among
low-income heterosexuals in cities.
Based on their findings, the CDC authors recommended that HIV
prevention programs aimed at heterosexuals should focus on those in
Another expert wasn't surprised by the findings.
"Epidemiologists knew by 1984 that the then-new disease would ultimately concentrate among the poor," said Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist and professor at the Hunter College School of Public Health in New York City. He said "the findings do point up the powerful effects of place [on HIV transmission]: community and neighborhood factors, poverty, and other aspects of social environment."
The study is published in the Aug. 12 issue of the
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC. Preliminary results from the study were presented in July 2010 at an international AIDS conference in Vienna, Austria.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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