A new study, presented last Thursday, March 08, at the Conference of Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, has found that in certain areas of the United States, the HIV/AIDS infection rate in both African American and Latin women is as high as in Africa. Additionally, within certain at risk groups, the rate of infection was found to be five times higher than in other areas of the country. Raleigh Durham, North Carolina is among the list of locations with both issues. Other areas with the same findings are Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Newark and New York City.
The new findings come from The Women’s HIV Seroincidence Study, also known as ISIS. According to ABC News, the study participants were 2099 African American and Latin women, with ages that ranged from 18 to 44, who previously had not tested positive for HIV. When the study participants were selected, 32 new participants were found to be HIV positive, but completely unaware of their infection. Of the women who participated in the study, 12% were Latin and 88% were African American. After the first year of the study, 0.24% of the women had positive test results, which is five times higher than the Center for Disease Control’s previous findings estimates in African American Women.
Dr. Sally Hodder, study author and professor of medicine at Newark’s New Jersey Medical School Medical, was quoted as saying, “Along with these results, a lot of other statistics came out of this study.” Not only were in excess of 40% of the study participants unaware of their last sexual partner’s HIV status, the same 40% were at or below the poverty level. Says Doctor Hodder, ” We need better access to medical care and screenings, substance abuse treatment, education and job training for these areas of the country.”
If you or someone you know is at high risk, whether because of intravenous drug use or participating in unprotected sexual activity, let the findings of this study be an official wake-up call. HIV/AIDS is regaining it’s epidemic status in the United States; more quietly than in the past, but no less deadly. Get tested. Get tested at your doctor’s office or at a health care provider, such as Planned Parenthood. Their website will have detailed information on HIV/AIDS, and location addresses of North Carolina providers. Planned Parenthood has an office in Raleigh, one in Durham, as well as additional locations in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston Salem, Wilmington, Charlotte and both Roanoke and Blacksburg, Virginia.
There is help and treatment available, and only with awareness, education and the recognition and elimination of risky behaviours will we be able to stop the spread and mimimize the consequences of HIV/AIDS. We have links to two articles in the suggested reading section, which has additional information about both getting tested, and the spread of HIV/AIDS in the south over the past several years. Take charge of this preventable disease for yourself and your loved ones.