MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Sharoda Dasgupta
Sharoda Dasgupta, PhD, MPH
US Public Health Service and Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Dasgupta: Roughly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and about 40,000 diagnoses occur each year, according to the most recent CDC data.
According to national estimates published by CDC, African Americans remain disproportionately affected by the virus. African Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for almost 50 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2014. Some signs have emerged that HIV is loosening its grip on the African American community, but persistent disparities are prolonging HIV transmission.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) improves clinical outcomes for people living with HIV and reduces their risk of transmitting the virus to others. Racial and ethnic disparities in HIV care, however, limit access to ART, which perpetuates disparities in survival and HIV transmission.
Although previous studies have mostly analyzed HIV care by race and ethnicity during a single year, the purpose of this study was to better understand how people living with HIV remain in care over a longer period in time – and whether their retention in care differed by race and ethnicity.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Dasgupta: This analysis focused on 12 U.S. jurisdictions that reported comprehensive HIV lab results to CDC from January 2010 – December 2013. They represent approximately 25 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2010.
The findings demonstrate yet another persistent disparity that prolongs the epidemic among African Americans. Only 38 percent of African Americans received consistent HIV care from 2011 – 2013, compared with 49% of whites and 50% of Latinos. Additionally, African American males were less likely to receive consistent medical care than African American females (35 percent and 44 percent, respectively).
Among African Americans, receiving consistent HIV care was highest among those whose HIV infections were attributable to heterosexual contact. Those who received consistent HIV medical care for three years were considered consistently retained in care.