Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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The unequal burden of HIV

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Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the U.S. have been disproportionately affected by HIV since the beginning of the epidemic.

A new study led by Eli Rosenberg, assistant professor of epidemiology, finds that, even in a best-case scenario, this disparity likely will continue for decades.

The unequal burden of HIV has puzzled researchers. Black MSM do not engage in riskier behaviors than white MSM, and they are just as consistent about condom use and HIV testing, if not more so. Why then do they suffer consistently higher acquisition rates?

The study by Rosenberg, in collaboration with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, found blacks trailed whites in every step along the continuum of care—diagnosis, linkage to care, retention in care, antiretroviral prescriptions, and suppression of viral load.

There are various reasons for such imbalances, but Rosenberg concludes that even if the playing field could be leveled, the disparity in infection rates would narrow only a bit.

"There is an urgent need to improve our rates of HIV testing, linkage and retention in care, and prescription of and adherence to antiretroviral therapy for black men living with HIV," he notes.

Related Resources:

"Study shows dire consequences from elevated HIV cases among U.S. black gay men" (11/20/2014)

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