HIV hits black women hardest, CDC report says

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By Shamard Charles, M.D.

Black women continue to be diagnosed with HIV at disproportionately high rates relative to white and Hispanic/Latina women, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite recent progress that has seen new HIV diagnoses decrease by 21 percent from 2010 to 2016, black women still accounted for 6 in 10 new HIV infections among women in 2016.

“We know that African American women are disproportionally affected by the HIV epidemic in the United States, and the interventions that have been laid out have not impacted this group in the same way it has males and nonblack women,” said Dr. Michael Angarone, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The researchers looked at HIV data collected over a seven-year period and used a model to measure the disparity among different groups called the population attributable proportion, or PAP. They modeled the reductions in new HIV infections that would have occurred if the rate of infections among black women were the same as white women. They found that the PAP decreased from 0.75 in 2010 to 0.70 in 2016.

In other words, HIV infections among black and white women would have been 75 percent lower in 2010 and 70 percent lower in 2016 if rates of new HIV infections were the same between white and black women. Additionally, in 2016, 93 percent of infections among black women would not have occurred.