Indiana's health commissioner said Thursday that the state's African-American residents continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
"It's a substantial increase, and it's an area of real concern to us," Judith Monroe said at a news conference.
State figures show that blacks, who represent less than 10 percent of the population, accounted for more than four of every 10 new cases in 2008, up from about three of every 10 in 2007. Almost half of the state's 513 new diagnoses in 2008 were made in Indianapolis. Of the city's known 3,779 HIV/AIDS cases, 1,559 are African-American.
"This is a complex problem," Monroe said. "When we look at HIV, it has to do with sexual activity and drug use, but also with domestic violence, incarceration, poverty, [and lack of] education. It's all these other areas -- those issues tend to affect communities of color at higher rates."
"Poverty can lead to risk-taking," said Mwangi James Murage, director of training and evaluation for the Indiana Minority Health Coalition. He noted that while most people are "pretty much aware of the basics" of how HIV is transmitted, "there's a difference between being aware and changing behavior."
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