In U.S. Cities, HIV Linked More to Poverty Than Race
July 20, 2010
Poverty appears to be the most important demographic factor influencing the spread of HIV among heterosexuals in economically disadvantaged U.S. neighborhoods, suggests a report being presented this week at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.
"It's epidemiological bad luck," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, who is director of HIV/AIDS prevention for CDC and who oversaw the study team. "I'm in a community where, when I meet a new [sexual] partner, the chance that they would have HIV is much higher than if I were wealthy and living in another geographical area."
The link between poverty and HIV demands a reconsideration of how to fight the epidemic, said Dr. Carlos del Rio, chair of global health studies within the school of public health at Emory University. He recently conducted a study that found epidemic-level HIV prevalence in certain Atlanta neighborhoods, with 60 percent of the city's cases identified in a downtown area with a high concentration of blacks, IV drug users, and poor people.
"You talk about 'Can we decrease the HIV burden in the United States?' I would say, 'What can we do to decrease poverty in the United States?'" del Rio said.
07.19.2010; Mike Stobbe
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