HIV statistics show blacks still at higher risk

NATION DIGEST

Nation Digest

November 18, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES -- The rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections among African-Americans has dropped an average of 5 percent annually for the past three years, but blacks are still 8.4 times as likely as whites to contract the lethal virus, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released yesterday.

Meanwhile, the rate of new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men of all races, stable for the past three years, rose 8 percent last year, according to the report.

Authorities are at a loss to explain the sudden increase, said Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, acting director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.

Another CDC report issued earlier this month, however, showed a 29 percent rise in syphilis infections among those men over the past four years, suggesting an increase in high-risk sexual activity.

Black patients account for 69 percent of new diagnoses among heterosexuals.

"Overall, new HIV diagnoses continue to disproportionately and severely impact Africa-Americans, both men and women," he said. "This is not new, but it is critical that we not become complacent."

The new data reflect information obtained from 33 states that have name-based reporting of HIV infections and AIDS cases, in which each case is identified by the actual name of the patient, not by a code number.

Name-based reporting is thought to be more accurate.

Among the states not covered are Maryland, Illinois and California.

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