Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sex, Race, and Geography Influence Health Outcomes Following Primary HIV Infection

Women, nonwhites, and people in the southern United States who were newly infected with HIV and followed for an average of four years experienced greater HIV/AIDS-related morbidity compared to men and people of other races living in other regions of the country.The findings, published in the February 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, underscore the urgent need to improve the health of these populations in order to reduce HIV-related morbidity and mortality in the U.S.

During the course of the study (1997-2007), the frequency of HIV-related illnesses in women was more than double that of men, with nonwhite women having the most negative outcomes. After eight years of infection, HIV-related events affected 64 percent of nonwhite women, and AIDS-defining events occurred in 22 percent of nonwhite women. In comparison, HIV-related and AIDS-defining events occurred in 21 percent and 6 percent of individuals in other combined race and sex groups, respectively.
The data representing subjects from the southern U.S. show that race and region play a major role in health outcomes of both women and men infected with HIV. Eight years following their diagnosis, 78 percent of nonwhites and 37 percent of whites in the southern U.S. had experienced one or more HIV/AIDS-related event, compared to 17 percent of nonwhites and 24 percent of whites in other geographic locations.
The authors hypothesized that the disparities could be attributed to the influence of socioeconomic factors, including "access to health care, health behaviors, lifestyle, and environmental exposures." Delayed therapy may be one factor affecting increased morbidity in HIV-infected individuals living in the South; however, socioeconomic factors probably also play a role. 
It was concluded that "understanding the causes of poor health outcomes among HIV-infected women, nonwhites and people from the South is a critical first step. In addition, development of strategies or interventions to improve health outcomes in these populations is essential."

Full Article:
-Catalina Angel

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