Alarming Rates of HIV Among Black Women, Study Suggests

A recent study suggests that the rate of HIV infection among Black women in some cities equals the shocking level found in some African countries.

Posted: 03/09/2012 12:21 PM EST
HIV, AIDS, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, National News, women's health

A recently released study has revealed that the rate of HIV infection among Black women in the United States is alarmingly high, rivaling the level found in some African countries.

The study, presented by the Conference of Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, was an analysis of Black women who live in cities with some of the nation’s highest rates of HIV and AIDS. They included New York City, Atlanta, Washington, Newark, Baltimore and the North Carolina cities of Raleigh and Durham.

The research comes from data in work by the Women's HIV Seroionincidence Study, which suggests that HIV is far from being eradicated but that it has been largely forgotten, according to the research.

"This disease is alive and well in this country," said Dr. Carlos Del Rio, principal investigator for the Atlanta area of the study and professor of medicine and infectious disease at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "But this epidemic is the face of the forgotten people."

Del Rio added that there are "hot spots" in the United States where the disease continues to spread. Most of those areas are among the communities with large portions of low-income residents.  

"That's bad, but it's good because we know where to pour our intervention efforts," Del Rio said.

The research included more than 2,000 women between the ages of 18 to 44 who had never had a positive HIV test. Of the total participants, 88 percent were Black, 12 percent Hispanic. At the time of enrollment, researchers found that 32 women were infected with HIV but were unaware of their status.

Within one year of joining the study, 0.24 percent of the women tested positive for the disease. That rate is five times higher than the previous estimates by the Centers for Disease Control, which did its own evaluation of HIV rates among Black women.

The numbers are comparable to the HIV rates found in the general population in many sub-Saharan African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (0.28 percent) and Kenya (0.53 percent).

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(Photo: Chicago Tribune/MCT/Landov)

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