February 10, 2014
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Despite highest HIV incidence, blacks show low linkage to care

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New data suggest that 74.9% of blacks with diagnosed HIV infection were linked to care in 2010, according to an MMWR report.

The HIV Care Continuum Initiative, an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in July, called for achieving a goal of 85% of blacks to be linked to care and 80% to be retained in care by 2015. It also called for the number of blacks with viral suppression to increase by 20%. In 2010, only 35.2% had achieved viral suppression.

“Focusing on prevention and care efforts on populations that bear a disproportionate burden of HIV disease could lead to reductions in HIV incidence and health inequities and help achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” CDC researchers wrote.

The researchers used 2010 data reported to the National HIV Surveillance System to determine the number of blacks with diagnosed HIV in 19 jurisdictions and the percentage of those linked to care and retained in care by the end of 2010. Among the 8,261 blacks diagnosed with HIV, 6,186 (74.9%) were linked to care within 3 months of diagnosis. In addition, among 153,581 blacks aged at least 13 years with HIV, only 48% were retained in care.

Data from the CDC’s Medical Monitoring Project were used to calculate prescriptions for antiretroviral therapy and viral suppression. Throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, only 46.2% of the 353,653 blacks aged at least 18 years with diagnosed HIV infection have a prescription for ART. In addition, only 35.2% of these patients achieved viral suppression at their latest test.

“Increasing the proportion of black persons living with HIV who are receiving care is critical for achieving the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, improve health outcomes and decrease health disparities,” the researchers wrote. “Among blacks, targeted strategies for different groups, such as males and youths, might be needed to achieve improvements at each step of the HIV care continuum.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.