We all know that poor health indicators and poverty are linked, so it should come as no surprise that new research shows higher HIV rates in high poverty urban areas than in other areas. The study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), interviewed over 9,000 people who are not members of a high risk group. In other words, they did not include gay and bisexual men, the users of injectable drugs, or sex workers and their clients, so they could see how income and urban issues affect HIV rates. The study found that — even when controlling for high risk populations — HIV/AIDS has officially reached epidemic levels among heterosexuals living in high poverty urban areas in the US.
According to the data, 2.1% of heterosexuals living in high-poverty urban areas in the US are HIV positive. In comparison, .1% of all heterosexuals in the US are HIV positive. The more detailed data in the graphic to the left, shows that the lower the income the higher the prevalence of HIV. The new study also shows that poverty, even more so than race or ethnicity, is the demographic factor most associated with HIV infection among urban heterosexuals. In the overall HIV epidemic in the US, there are severe racial and ethnic disparities, but this is not the case in high-poverty urban areas where whites, blacks, and Hispanics were statistically similar.
The CDC study shows that when the populations with the most risk for HIV infection are removed, HIV/AIDS still represents an epidemic in the US. Sources cited in the CDC report and in other media sources argue that limited access to health care might be a contributing factor to the high rates among the urban poor. Lack of health care means people are not exposed to prevention or testing services which allows them to spread the disease without even knowing they are infected. Because of this, the new National HIV/AIDS Strategy is shifting some of it focus to high poverty areas with limited access to health care.
To read more from the CDC on this issue, click here.
To read more from the Wall Street Journal on this issue, click here.