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National News

Study Reports High HIV, HCV Rates Among African-, Latino-American Drug Injectors

January 2, 2003

A study recently released found that among drug injectors, African Americans are five times as likely to get HIV than whites, and Latinos are one-and-a half times as likely. The study also found that 50-80 percent of injection drug users become infected with hepatitis C within 6-12 months of beginning injection drug use, making up for about half of new hepatitis C cases in the United States.

The study, "Health Emergency: The Spread of Drug-Related AIDS and Hepatitis C Among African-Americans and Latinos," was released by the Dogwood Center, an independent, nonprofit research organization, in conjunction with the Harm Reduction Coalition, a group committed to reducing drug-related harm. The study is the fifth in a series detailing the impact of the injection-related AIDS and hepatitis C epidemics on African Americans and Latinos.

The study examines methods of disease prevention, specifically, the need for more studies to determine the benefit and importance of needle exchange programs among injecting drug users. It also explores the benefit of treating addicted persons in helping prevent the spread of AIDS, and the struggles that come with treating those who are disadvantaged and disproportionately affected by HIV and hepatitis C.

"Through this study, we are able to prove that syringe exchange is effective HIV prevention," said Maria Chavez, California director of the Harm Reduction Coalition. "We firmly believe that with more federally funded needle exchange programs, we will be able to help prevent the further spread of blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C."

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According to "Health Emergency," eight federally funded research studies have that found needle exchange programs slow the spread of HIV and do not increase drug use. The latest UN report on global AIDS prevention also notes the importance of sterile needles for HIV prevention.

"Unfortunately, many African American and Latino patients are not benefiting as much as whites from the new treatments [for AIDS and hepatitis C]," Chavez said. "The outcomes of this study underscore the critical need for action to be taken on behalf of these communities to ensure that they are receiving the information and medication they need to fight the spread of these diseases."

Back to other CDC news for January 2, 2003

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Adapted from:
AIDS Weekly
12.30.02



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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