Factors Contributing to Disparities
Research shows that racial disparities in health are often a marker of a range of broader social and economic challenges. For HIV, these include:
- Greater overall prevalence of HIV in these communities, and the fact that African Americans are more likely to select sex partners of the same race, increase an individual's risk of infection with every sexual encounter
- Higher rates of poverty in some communities of color, which can limit access to health care, HIV testing and medications that can lower levels of HIV in the blood and help prevent transmission
- Higher rates of undiagnosed/untreated STDs, which can increase the risk of both acquiring and transmitting HIV
- Stigma and homophobia, which may prevent many individuals from seeking testing, prevention and treatment services
- Higher rates of incarceration, which disrupt social and sexual networks in the broader community
- Power imbalances within sexual relationships for many women of color, which can make it difficult to negotiate consistent condom use
It is important that people who experience these circumstances understand that these factors may place them at greater risk for HIV and take steps to protect themselves. These include correct and consistent condom use, HIV and STD testing and limiting or reducing their number of sexual partners.
HIV Prevention Guided by National HIV/AIDS Strategy and New CDC Approach
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released in July 2010, guides the nation's response to the U.S. HIV/AIDS crisis. To help achieve the goals of the national strategy and ensure that HIV prevention efforts are having the greatest impact, CDC is pursuing "High-Impact Prevention," a new approach designed to maximize every prevention dollar by:
- Identifying the right combinations of cost-effective HIV prevention interventions
- Targeting them to the populations at greatest risk
- Implementing them on a large enough scale to significantly reduce new HIV infections in the United States
|HIV: Protect Yourself|
Be smart about HIV. Here's what you can do to reduce your risk of infection:
Get the facts -- Arm yourself with basic information: Are you at risk? How is HIV spread? How can you protect yourself?
Take control -- You have the facts; now protect yourself and your loved ones. Effective strategies for reducing HIV risk include:
- Abstinence: The most reliable way to avoid infection is to abstain from sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
- Mutual monogamy: Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid HIV infection.
- Reduced number of sex partners: Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for HIV. It is still important that you get tested for HIV, and share your test results with your partner.
- Condoms: Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing HIV transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal or oral sex.
Additionally, HIV can be transmitted by injecting illicit drugs (drugs not prescribed by your doctor) through needles, syringes and other works if they are contaminated with the blood of someone who has the virus. It is vital that individuals who inject drugs use only clean needles, syringes and other works -- and never share them.
Put yourself to the test -- Knowing your HIV status is a critical step toward stopping HIV transmission, because if you know you are infected, you can take steps to protect your partners. Also, if you are infected, the sooner you find out, the sooner you can receive life-extending treatment. In fact, CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV. Because other STDs can play a role in the acquisition of HIV, knowing whether you are infected with an STD is critical for reducing your risk for HIV infection.
Call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.hivtest.org to find HIV and STD testing locations near you.
Start talking -- Talk to everyone you know about HIV -- friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, at work and at places of worship. Have ongoing and open discussions with your partners about HIV testing and risk behaviors. Talking openly about HIV can reduce the stigma that keeps too many from seeking the testing, prevention and treatment services, and support they need.
HIV doesn't have to become part of your life. Each of us can and must be part of the solution.
HIV/AIDS Information and Resources
* The term men who have sex with men is used in CDC surveillance systems because it indicates the behaviors that transmit HIV infection, rather than how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality.
- Hall HI et al. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2010 Oct 1;55(2):271-6.
- Purcell DW et al. National STD Prevention Conference 2010.
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