Combating HIV by zip code

Minority neighborhoods in the U.S. are hit as hard by HIV as gay enclaves

From Healthline.com

HIV rates in some urban American neighborhoods rival those of Haiti and Ethiopia, according to a researcher at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

And while affected communities include big-city gay enclaves, such as New York’s Chelsea district, minority neighborhoods in the Bronx and Harlem make the list, too. The difference is that those in mostly white neighborhoods are more likely to be tested and treated than those in minority neighborhoods.They are also less likely to die of AIDS.

In an era of Internet targeting, Dr. Amy Nunn’s approach of going door-to-door if necessary to reach people with HIV may seem old-fashioned. But in areas with limited access to health care, employment, and education, HIV experts agree that a new model is needed to reach at-risk groups of black and Hispanic Americans.

Of the 50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for two-thirds of them, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black men and women are eight times more likely to become infected than whites, based on population size. Of all groups, white men who had sex with men comprised the largest segment of new infections, at 11,200. Black men who had sex with men were second, with 10,600 new infections.

Dr. Nunn, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown, told Healthline that more money must be targeted toward poor and minority neighborhoods. “If this were happening to white people there would be protests,” she said. “It’s so easy to overlook poor people.”

Of the more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, almost 16 percent don’t know they have it, according to the CDC. Powerful antiretroviral medications available to most everyone in the U.S. can suppress viral loads to the point that transmission is unlikely. But they will only work if they are taken regularly.

“We’ve got to get these people into treatment come hell or high water,” Nunn said.

Continue reading on Healthline.com.

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