California: AIDS Rates Among Blacks Puzzle Researchers
February 20, 2007
To commemorate Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Feb. 7, community members and health officials held a luncheon to initiate a call to action regarding HIV/AIDS in San Francisco's black community. The city health department estimates that of the roughly 63,577 gay men in the city, 14,205 have HIV. The department's 2005 Annual Report on HIV/AIDS Epidemiology said African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) had the highest HIV prevalence (31.8 percent), followed by 26.3 percent for whites, 23.1 percent for Latinos, and 10 percent for Asians.
The report noted that gay and bisexual black men have the least risky sex of any racial group, and are less likely to have unprotected anal sex with a partner of an unknown or different HIV status. H. Fisher Raymond, assistant director of the HIV/AIDS statistics section of the health department, said no one has determined why black MSM continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
Andre Robertson, director of prevention at the Black AIDS Coalition and coordinator for the Brother's Alive program, said lack of access to health care could be one of the reasons for the black community's high HIV/AIDS rates overall. "If you don't have access to health care you are less likely to take preventive measures to preserve your health and so consequently any health threat that comes along [means] African Americans will be impacted disproportionately simply because of the access issue," Robertson said.
Researchers cite prejudice and distrust as barriers to accessing health care. A 2002 Institute of Medicine article noted "a pattern of ethnic and racial minorities receiving lesser quality of health care than non-minorities, even when they have health insurance."
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
02.15.07; Heather Cassell
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.