U.S. AIDS Epidemic Worse Than Thought
40% Higher HIV Infection Rate; 56,300 Americans Infected Each Year
WebMD News Archive
Who Gets HIV in America? continued...
"It is a very large and disturbing disparity," Wolitski says.
Race itself is not the risk. Wolitski points to factors and situations that
disproportionately affect black Americans' HIV risk.
"Poverty, stigma, misperceptions of risk, disparities in rates of
sexually transmitted diseases, and the destabilizing effects incarceration has
on individuals, families, communities, and substance use -- all may be playing
a role here," he says.
Black men who have sex with men are at particularly high risk. A 2005 CDC
study showed that in some U.S. cities, 46% of black gay/bisexual men were
infected with HIV. That's twice the 21% infection rate seen for white
gay/bisexual men, and far higher than the 17% rate for gay/bisexual Hispanic
Drug Users -- Clue to AIDS Prevention Success?
The CDC's new figures aren't all gloom and doom.
A ray of light comes, of all places, from intravenous drug users. Since the
mid-1990s, fewer and fewer Americans have been getting HIV from intravenous
drug use. That's due not to a decrease in drug use, but to prevention success
among those who continue to use illicit drugs.
"It is exciting to see the continued declines in new infections among
intravenous drug users," Wolitski says.
What makes this so exciting is that drug users are a hard-to-reach
population that obviously ignores mainstream health messages. Yet prevention
efforts succeeded in dropping new HIV infections from a high of about 35,000
per year in the late 1980s to fewer than 6,000 per year in 2003-2006.
"It underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach that included
a focus on individuals' needs, and includes needle and syringe exchanges that
have been implemented in many communities around the country," Wolitski
says. "Here it shows why we really need a comprehensive approach to HIV prevention. No single
strategy is going to be a solution to the epidemic."
The Future of AIDS in America
Often lost in discussions of new HIV
treatments is the fact that nobody has to get HIV. It's a 100% preventable
infection. But prevention means dealing with sexual issues in a practical,