Sunday, March 11, 2012

HIV among Black Women

At a recent conference on retroviruses, Dr. Hodder presented a study on the prevalence of HIV among American black women. In "HPTN 064 Women's HIV Seroincidence Study (ISIS)", it was found that among a study of 2,099 adult females (88% of whom were African-American), 0.24% of participants were HIV positive; this rate is 5 times higher than the rate predicted by the CDC for the general population of African-American women.

This study is getting a high amount of press because this infection rate is comparable to developing countries known for their burgeoning HIV rate - for instance, Congo at 0.28% and Kenya at 0.53% HIV-positivity.

Although the study focused on areas known to have high HIV rates and prevalent poverty, this is still a very concerning statistic for even a subpopulation. On the whole, 66% of new HIV infections among women in the US occur among African-American women, while only 14% of US women are actually African-American. This disparity is alarming and begs to be addressed by behavioral interventions. Hopefully the attention of the HIV-aware community can be directed toward black women just as intensely as it has been directed toward homosexual men in the past.


- Elena Higuchi

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