Greg Millett, amfAR vice president and director of public policyDespite declines in HIV infection rates among several populations in the U.S. — including African Americans — blacks continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV and AIDS in the nation, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
From 2010 to 2014, the annual HIV diagnosis rate decreased for blacks by 16%, according to the CDC’s February 3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). However, in 2015, African Americans still accounted for 45% of new HIV cases
“The good news is that HIV diagnosis has been decreasing all over the United States for the last 10 years, and it’s also decreasing among African Americans,” said Greg Millett, amfAR vice president and director of public policy, in an interview with HealthDay. “This shows that prevention efforts are working, as well as efforts to increase HIV treatment in the African-American community.”
The bad news, Millett said, is that African Americans living with HIV have worse outcomes on the HIV care continuum — from initial diagnosis to achieving the goal of viral suppression.
Among African Americans living with HIV in 2013, 54% were receiving continuous HIV medical care compared with 58% of whites. Of those, 49% had achieved viral suppression compared with 62% of whites, the CDC reported.
From 2010 to 2014, the annual HIV diagnosis rate decreased for blacks by 16%. However, in 2015, African Americans still accounted for 45% of new HIV cases.
“This is not something that’s specific to HIV. There are other diseases where blacks are more likely to die or have worse outcomes than other groups,” Millett told HealthDay.
“It’s really more symptomatic of marginalization in society — issues of poverty, not having access to health insurance, and homelessness, which is associated with not taking HIV medications and not having the virus suppressed.”
The findings underscore the importance of directing prevention and care efforts to the populations most affected, according to lead researcher Andre Dailey, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. He and his colleagues analyzed data from the National HIV Surveillance System in 33 areas around the nation.
“CDC is pursuing an approach that focuses resources on programs and initiatives that can have the biggest impact,” Dailey told HealthDay. “This includes targeted focus on African Americans and in geographic areas of greatest need — including the South.”
A separate report in the same edition of MMWR found that the HIV infection rate has significantly decreased among black women: by 42% from 2005 to 2014. But in 2015, black women still accounted for two-thirds of all women living with HIV.
Furthermore, in 2015, the annual HIV diagnosis rate among black women was roughly 16 times greater than among white women and five times that among Hispanic women.
Read more about HIV among African Americans: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html