Home » Articles » Details » Major differences seen in Americans with HIV in regards to race, age, education, and native language

At the end of 2009, about 1.1 million Americans were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. There are 50,000 new infections diagnosed annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed a recent national survey to shed light on disparities seen among those who have this disease.

In the 46 states for which HIV data were available, 46,379 adults aged 18 years and older received a diagnosis of HIV in 2008, and 46,381 received an HIV diagnosis in 2010. Disparities exist among minority populations, with blacks and African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos accounting for approximately half of all new infections and deaths among people who received an HIV diagnosis in 2009. During 2010, the difference in the HIV diagnosis rate among blacks and African Americans was eight times higher than that among whites. The rate among Hispanics and Latinos, people of multiple races, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders was twice that of whites.

In 2010, compared to white women, the difference in HIV diagnosis rates among black and African American women was twenty times that of whites, was fourfold for women of multiple races, was threefold for Hispanic/Latino women, and was twofold for American Indians and Alaska Natives. From 2008 to 2010, the differences increased for all racial groups of women except Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and women of multiple races compared with whites. The largest difference was seen for men who have sex with men compared with all other men (a 46-fold difference) in 2010, as well as the largest change from 2008 to 2010 (763 percentage points).

Among adults receiving medical care in 2009, the percentages of people who were prescribed antiretroviral therapy increased as age increased. Compared with adults aged 55 years and older, a lower percentage of people aged 18 to 34 years were prescribed antiretroviral therapy. By race, lower percentages of blacks and African Americans were prescribed antiretroviral therapy than were whites. A higher percentage of men were prescribed antiretroviral therapy than women. Among men, lower percentages of blacks and African Americans were prescribed antiretroviral therapy than whites. A similar pattern was seen in the percentage of women prescribed antiretroviral therapy.

Among people prescribed antiretroviral therapy in 2009, people aged 25 to 44 years had the lowest percentages of people with a suppressed viral load. By race, lower percentages of blacks and African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos had a suppressed viral load than whites. A higher percentage of men had a suppressed viral load than women. Among men, lower percentages of blacks and African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos had a suppressed viral load than whites. A higher percentage of people who spoke Spanish with friends and family had a suppressed viral load at their most recent test than English-speaking people. A higher percentage of people who self-identified as homosexual had a suppressed viral load than people who self-identified as heterosexual. The percentage of people with a suppressed viral load increased as educational level increased.

People in younger age groups reported higher percentages of receipt of HIV prevention counseling than those aged 55 years and older. Higher percentages of blacks and African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos had received HIV prevention counseling from a healthcare provider than whites. A lower percentage of men received HIV prevention counseling from a healthcare provider than women. Among men, higher percentages of blacks and African Americans and Hispanics and Latinos received HIV prevention counseling than whites. Findings were similar among women. A higher percentage of people born outside the US received HIV prevention counseling than people born in the US. A higher percentage of people who spoke Spanish with friends and family had received HIV prevention counseling than English-speaking people. A lower percentage of people who self-identified as homosexual had received HIV prevention counseling than people who self-identified as heterosexual. The percentage of people receiving prevention counseling increased as educational levels decreased.

The prevalence of HIV continues to be highest among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, who made up half of all people with new infections in 2009. Among men who have sex with men, unprotected anal sex with a casual male partner was most common in younger age groups. By race, Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men and men who have sex with men of multiple races accounted for the largest percentages of men who have sex with men who engaged in unprotected anal sex with a casual partner compared with whites.

The percentages of men who have sex with men who had been tested for HIV infection in the 12 months before the survey were higher among younger than older men who have sex with men and those who identified as homosexual than those who did not. This increased with education levels.

The percentages of men who have sex with men who reported participation in a behavioral HIV intervention in the 12 months before interview were higher among younger than older men who have sex with men and among men who have sex with men of minority racial groups than whites. Men who have sex with men aged 18 to 24 years accounted for the highest percentage of men who have sex with men who participated in a behavioral intervention. Compared with men who have sex with men who had graduated from college, the percentage of men who have sex with men who had participated in a behavioral intervention was higher among men who have sex with men with lower levels of educational attainment.

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