Health Care

CDC data shows major disparities in Black people with HIV infections

Black people account for a much higher proportion of new HIV infections compared to other races and ethnicities, and a majority of them reside in residentially segregated and vulnerable areas, according to new data released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report comes ahead of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7, and highlights efforts by the CDC to focus on addressing social vulnerabilities and long-standing inequities in the health system.

According to the CDC, Black people accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2019, but 40 percent of people with HIV. 

While new HIV infections declined 8 percent overall from 2015 to 2019, they remained stable among Black people during that period. According to the CDC, Black people face rates of infection that are eight times as high as white people, and Hispanic/Latino people face rates that are almost four times as high.

The new figures highlight the immense disparities facing Black populations and the challenges of trying to end the HIV epidemic.

Black men specifically accounted for three-quarters of new HIV infections among all Black people in the United States in 2019, with 82 percent of infections attributed to male-to-male sexual contact.

There has been some recent progress, especially preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is an HIV prevention medication initiated before and continued throughout periods of potential exposure to HIV.

Preliminary CDC data show that in 2020, about 25 percent of the 1.2 million people for whom PrEP is recommended were prescribed it, compared to only about 3 percent in 2015.

But those HIV treatments and preventions are not reaching the people that need it the most. According to the CDC, only 8 percent of Black people in the U.S. who were eligible for PrEP were prescribed it, compared to 60 percent of white people.

“Health disparities are not inevitable and can be addressed. The advanced, highly effective HIV prevention and treatment tools and COVID-19 vaccines that have been accessed by some must be accessible to all,” Demetre Daskalakis, director of CDC’s HIV Prevention Program, said in a statement. 

“While there is no simple solution to equity, our nation must finally tear down the wall of factors—systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, HIV-related stigma, and other ingrained barriers—that still obstructs these tools against HIV and COVID-19 from equitably reaching the people who could benefit from them,” Daskalakis said.

Tags CDC health disparities HIV Racism

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