March 14, 2013
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Low income associated with higher HIV prevalence in urban areas

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Results from a CDC study show that HIV prevalence among heterosexuals with low socioeconomic status was 2.3% overall. Among survey participants who did not report a previous positive HIV test, the prevalence was 1.1%, according to the report.

“These results remind us of the importance of reaching this population with targeted prevention and testing efforts, as well as the need to address the complex social, economic and structural factors fueling the epidemic in this population,” Isa Miles, ScD, of the CDC, told Infectious Disease News. “It’s important to note that these data provide insight into one population — low-socioeconomic heterosexuals — and in one type of setting — urban areas with high AIDS prevalence. Nationally, gay and bisexual men continue to be most affected by HIV in the United States.”

As part of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) data collection, CDC researchers surveyed heterosexuals in urban areas with a high prevalence of AIDS. Data from a 2010 analysis showed that, overall, the prevalence of HIV was 2.3%. Among those with an annual income of less than $10,000, the prevalence was 2.8%. Among those with less than a high school education, the prevalence was 3.1%.

Metropolitan statistical areas in the Northeast and South regions of the United States had the highest prevalence. The prevalence also was high among those who reported exchanging sex for money or drugs or who reported crack cocaine use in the past 12 months. Prevalence also was higher among black and Hispanics or Latinos.

“This study underscores the need for HIV prevention approaches that move beyond individual risk behaviors and also address environmental factors, including poverty,” Miles said. “We can’t look at HIV in isolation from the environment in which people live. To significantly reduce new HIV infections in the United States, we need a combination of HIV prevention approaches — both behavior-change programs and community-level interventions.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.