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Black Women Make Progress in Reducing HIV Disparity

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Declining HIV diagnoses among all US women appear to have cut the disproportionate burden of infection that beleaguers black women, according to a recent CDC study.

The investigators used 3 measures to calculate the disparity differences between black women and white and Hispanic women. They examined the absolute difference in incidence rates; the diagnosis disparity ratio, which assesses year-to-year progress toward the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals for 2020; and the Index of Disparity, which expresses relative disparity among the 3 groups of women.

By all 3 measures, disparities in HIV diagnosis rates between black women and white and Hispanic women declined between 2010 and 2014. The decrease indicates that prevention efforts targeting women may have succeeded in reducing HIV infections in black women, the investigators noted.

They added that public health and medical care systems can improve existing prevention efforts by using several strategies: offer routine HIV screening without cost-sharing, recommend treatment for all patients with HIV to prolong life and reduce transmission, and provide preexposure prophylaxis for women at increased risk of HIV infection.

Despite the progress, the investigators noted that disparities persist. In 2015 black women were about 16 times more likely than white women to be diagnosed with HIV; black women accounted for 61% of HIV diagnoses while white women made up 19% of the total and Hispanic women accounted for 15%.

Additional research should examine factors that led to the disparity reduction and whether the decrease was uniform throughout the United States or varied because of geographic or other influences.

Eliminating disparities remains a national goal. “Expanding access to biomedical and behavioral interventions and research guided by social and structural determinants frameworks could close the remaining gap,” the researchers wrote.

 read more at JAMA