By Dr. Gail Barouh
Newer drugs that fight HIV, known as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapies (HAART) have reduced AIDS death rates significantly over the past 20 years. But a new study, entitled “The Influence of Sex, Race/Ethnicity and Educational Attainment on Human Immunodeficiency Virus Death Rates Among Adults, 1993-2007” demonstrates that death rates among blacks remains high, especially in the lowest educated groups.
The report published a few weeks ago online by the Archive of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication, found that death rates have fallen over the last two decades for those who are well educated. But death rates for those with less education, considered in this study an indicator of poverty and lower socioeconomic status, has remained unchanged and declines slowed most significantly for non-Hispanic black women of low socioeconomic status. The Authors wrote: “Relative declines were generally greater for those with higher educational attainment and for non-Hispanic whites, and these trends resulted in widening gaps between these groups.”
It is findings in studies like these that show a need for more education intervention and identification of high-risk individuals among the most vulnerable groups affected by the HIV epidemic. Early detection through testing and guidance to resources where HAART can start early will ensure a better prognosis for those with positive test results.
If you feel that you, or someone you know can benefit from this type of intervention, call the LIAAC hotline at 1-877-865-4222. Our HIV testing is free and confidential. We can link you to health care providers and the opportunities to receive a full range of medical services, including primary care, screenings and treatment. For those who do not test positive and are at risk, or for at risk communities or groups, we can offer education interventions or video based prevention programs designed to encourage condom use and improve condom negotiation skills. Findings from studies such as this one continue to show significant disparities in HIV illness and death rates due to social inequities. By helping us connect to the communities that need us most, you can help us fix this problem.