-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- About one in every 50
heterosexual Americans living in poorer urban neighborhoods is
infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
According to the CDC, the 2.3 percent infection rate among this
population "is approximately five times" that of the general
population, and more must be done to reach at-risk groups in poorer
The study is published in the March 15 issue of the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
In the study, researchers led by Isa Miles of the CDC's National
Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention examined 2010 data from
heterosexuals with household incomes at or below the federal
poverty level, and/or with less than a high school education. The
team looked at data on HIV infection rates for these populations in
21 cities nationwide. More than 70 percent of the people included
in the study were black.
Blacks had higher rates of HIV infection than other
racial/ethnic groups, the CDC report noted. Certain groups were at
especially high risk, including crack cocaine users, people who
have sex in exchange for either money or drugs, people with the
lowest levels of income or education, and people living in poorer
neighborhoods in cities in the Northeast or South.
More than one-fourth of people in the study had never been
tested for HIV. Of those who had HIV, 44 percent had never been
tested for the virus before.
In a journal editorial, CDC experts noted that getting tested
for HIV is key to reducing risk behaviors and seeking appropriate
care. To that end, the agency is currently supporting an extensive
HIV testing outreach program in all of the urban centers included
in the new analysis, and "in the first three years of this program,
2.8 million tests were conducted, and approximately 18,000 persons
were newly diagnosed with HIV infection," they wrote.
The findings support previous research showing that poorer,
straight people are at increased risk for HIV infection. The
authors of the new study said there is a critical need for HIV
prevention and testing programs tailored to this group of people,
as well as finding care for those who test positive for HIV.
In the editorial, CDC experts said that there is also a need to
tackle social, economic and other factors that affect this group of
people. This would include efforts to "reduce stigma and make HIV
testing accessible, affordable, and culturally acceptable," and
boost accessibility to care and treatment. Such efforts "could lead
to reductions in HIV incidence and health inequities," the authors
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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