Thursday, February 5, 2015

HIV-Positive Blacks Are Still Dying at Higher Rates than Whites, Hispanics

On the eve of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (it's Feb. 7), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention its latest report on the number of new infection and deaths. While the number of black Americans infected with HIV have historically died at much higher rates than whites, the gap appears to be closing. According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (which you can read ion it's entirety, below) the death rate for blacks with HIV dropped 28 percent over five years. The rate also fell, though not as dramatically, for whites and for people who identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. In 2012 — the most recent year in the analysis — the death rate per 1,000 HIV-infected people was 20.5 for blacks, 18 for whites and 14 for Hispanics. Blacks are infected with HIV at higher rates than other Americans. "In general, blacks with HIV are less likely to have their infection diagnosed, with 15% unaware of their infection in 2011 compared with 12% of whites," the report notes. It also notes that blacks comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population, but more than one-third of those with HIV in the United States. And, while there has been progress in HIV testing, 15 percent of blacks with HIV don't know they have the infection, and many who have been diagnosed do not receive care and treatment. The government tracks Americans with HIV, including those 13 or older at the time of death. Many deaths are from HIV and related illnesses, but the tally includes others causes — like car accidents. Because of that, it's difficult to say exactly why deaths fell more dramatically in HIV-infected blacks. But health officials believe they've had more success in recent years diagnosing and treating HIV in blacks. In 2012, 8,165 blacks with HIV died, more than whites and Hispanics combined.

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