Minorities Make Up Large Proportion Of HIV/AIDS Cases In Massachusetts

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A new report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health HIV/AIDS Bureau shows "grossly disproportionate" cases of HIV/AIDS among blacks and Hispanics, the Boston Globereports. According to the report, "An Added Burden: The Impact of theHIV/AIDS Epidemic on Communities of Color in Massachusetts," blacks andHispanics represented more than half the people in the state livingwith HIV/AIDS in 2005. Further, 83% of women with HIV/AIDS were blackor Hispanic. Blacks and Hispanics each make up 6% of the state'spopulation, according to the Globe.

The report, released on World AIDS Dayon Dec. 1, marks the first time the public health department issued areport specifically on racial disparities associated with HIV/AIDS, theGlobe reports.

The report recommended:

  • Expanding investment in HIV/AIDS programs aimed at minorities;
  • Creating HIV education and prevention materials that are culturally appropriate; and
  • Expanding access to needle-exchange programs in minority neighborhoods.

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Injectiondrug use is a significant factor in HIV transmission among minorities,who also are "dramatically underrepresented" in the state's HIV testingservices and needle-exchange programs, the Globe reports.

Anotherfactor behind higher HIV/AIDS rates among minorities is the highincarceration rate among black men, according to Massachusetts Healthand Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, who presented the report ata World AIDS Day event. Bigby said that men who have sex with other menin prison might later transmit HIV to their female partners.

Rebecca Haag, executive director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts,said a lack of information among minorities about HIV/AIDS preventionalso contributes to the situation. She added, "I think we're doing apretty good job in Massachusetts overall, but there are pockets ofcommunities where we need more funding for prevention."

She also said that recommendations for routine HIV testing from CDCwill not be successful without targeting approaches toward minoritycommunities. She added, "Routine testing without routine health caredoesn't do us a lot of good. We need to get the Urban League involved. ... There is still a lot of stigma related to this disease" (Woolhouse, Boston Globe, 12/2).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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