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Study Rethinks AIDS Prevalence Among Haitians

August 25, 2010

Haitian immigrants to the United States have been historically stigmatized as having introduced HIV into North America, according to Dr. Linda Marc, of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance, and colleagues. Haitian-born persons also have been thought to have higher HIV prevalence than other domestic groups, with Haitians included among the risk groups very early during the US epidemic.


However, previously no study has reported on US surveillance trends among Haitian-born persons, Marc and colleagues noted. The team set out to estimate AIDS prevalence among this population, with AIDS rates by race/ethnicity based on data from post-censal estimates, the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau and the Haitian Consulates.

The researchers estimated annual AIDS cases for adults and adolescents over age 12 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 1985-2007, who reported Haiti as place of birth to CDC. HIV data for 2004-2007 were obtained from 34 states.

"In 2007, Haitian-born persons constituted 1.2 percent of US AIDS cases, yet accounted for 0.18 percent of the total US population based on the American Community Survey estimates, which suggests a seven-fold over-representation in the CDC AIDS surveillance data," found researchers. "However, using population estimates from the Haitian Consulate, the over-representation ranges from three- to four-fold, which is similar to the AIDS rate for blacks/African-Americans."

It is likely that Haitian-born immigrants are undercounted by the US Census, especially if they are not in the country legally, Marc and co-authors said. "The importance of having accurate denominators to estimate the AIDS rate for the Haitian population is paramount," they concluded.

The full report, "HIV Among Haitian-Born Persons in the United States, 1985-2007," was published in AIDS (2010;24(13):2089-2097).

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Excerpted from:
Boston Globe

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