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HIV among African-American women shockingly high in some U.S. areas

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
HIV rates high among African-American women in some U.S. communities.

Some communities are seeing shockingly high rates of HIV infection among African-American women that are five times higher than the national average reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The finding highlights the need for targeted HIV prevention strategies and testing in areas of the U.S. where rates of infection among black women were found to be especially high.

According to the study, released by ICAP at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, HIV rates in specific U.S. ‘hot spots’ In the northeast and southeast regions of country.

Women enrolled in the study did not have a previous history of HIV infection, from Atlanta, GA, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Washington D.C., Baltimore, MD, Newark, NJ, and New York City.

Three sites in New York City collaborated to conduct "The HIV Prevention Trials Network’s (HPTN) 064 Women’s HIV Seroincidence Study" (ISIS): ICAP’s Harlem Prevention Center, the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, and the New Jersey Medical School Adult Clinical Research Center.

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP Director stated in a press release, “This study confirms that black women in these U.S. hotspots have disproportionately been affected by HIV. While we have made significant progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, our way forward must include prevention efforts tailored for these communities that are severely affected.”

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He notes that 66% of new HIV infections in the U.S. occur among African-American women and death rates among black women are 15 times higher, compared to white women infected with the virus.

The study included 2099 women; 88% of whom were African-American; age 18 to 44.Among those, 32 were newly diagnosed with HIV at the beginning of the investigation.

Jessica Justman, ICAP Senior Technical Director and associate professor of clinical epidemiology at the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said the finding shows infection from HIV transmission found in the study among African-American women in certain U.S. communities underscores the need to focus on prevention and testing.

The finding showed shockingly high rates of HIV infection in black women in certain ‘hot spots’ of the U.S. that are 5 times higher than estimates from the CDC for African-American women in other parts of the country.

Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
March 9, 2012

Image credit: Robin Wullfson, MD