Monday, July 19, 2010

New study links AIDS to poverty in US

A new study examines how AIDS and poverty are related in the United States. The new study was released to coincide with the International AIDS Conference now taking place in Vienna.

The study says that infection rates are nearly double for heterosexuals in poor neighborhoods than in wealthier areas. The authors of the study conclude that poverty is the leading factor in determining who is infected with the disease. The chances of one meeting a sexual partner with AIDS may be doubled according to where one lives.

From this Associated Press article that we found at KAIT, writer Mike Stobbe tells us how the study was conducted.

"In the United States, we haven't have a history of looking in depth at the association between poverty and HIV," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of HIV/AIDS Prevention for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mermin oversees the CDC team that did the new study.

The study involved a survey in 2006 and 2007 of 9,000 heterosexual adults, ages 18 to 50. They answered questions on a computer about their income, condom use and other details and were given HIV tests.

The research was done in high-poverty neighborhoods in 23 U.S. cities. It focused on heterosexuals who don't use intravenous drugs; that group accounts for about 28 percent of Americans living with HIV. It did not involve gay or bisexual men, who have the highest rates of HIV in the United States.

The results: HIV was detected in 2.4 percent of the people who were living below the federal poverty line, which in 2007 was an annual income of roughly $10,000 or less for an individual. The 2.4 percent translates to roughly 1 in 42 people.

In contrast, infections were found in 1.2 percent of people in the same neighborhoods who made more money than the federal poverty guideline. That's 1 in 83 people.

Both rates were higher than the national average, which is 0.45 percent, or 1 in 222 people.

The results suggest that people in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be infected because they live among more people who are infected. Perhaps more people in such neighborhoods have used illegal drugs or had other experiences that put them at higher risk, Mermin said.

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