HIV prevalence is 2% among heterosexuals living in urban areas with a high prevalence of AIDS, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among those in the survey who had not reported a previous positive HIV test, HIV prevalence was 1.1%. Overall, 25.8% of the 8,473 participants had not been tested before the survey, which was conducted using data from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System.
“Given the high HIV prevalence in this sample, additional research should be conducted to identify culturally appropriate interventions that overcome barriers to HIV testing and increase linkage to care for heterosexuals with low SES [socioeconomic status]in urban areas with high prevalence of AIDS,” the researchers wrote in the March 15 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
All respondents were offered anonymous HIV testing, regardless of self-reported HIV infection status. According to the data, HIV prevalence was similar for men (2.2%) and women (2.5%), and was higher among blacks (2.8%) and lower among Hispanics or Latinos (1.2%).
Prevalence was higher for participants who reported less than a high school education (3.1%), for those whose annual household income was less than $10,000 (2.8%), for those who had received or given compensation in exchange for sex (3.7%) and for those who reported using crack cocaine (6.3%). Geographically, relevance was highest among those living in the Northeast (4.1%) and South (3.9%).
“These findings suggest the need for both behavioral and structural HIV prevention interventions for these populations,” the authors wrote.
Although the proportion who were HIV infected was similar among people who had visited a healthcare provider in the past year (1.1%) and those who had not (0.9%), it was higher among those who reported never being tested for HIV (1.6%) compared with those who reported being tested within the past 12 months (0.5%). Among 8,365 respondents who did not report a previous positive HIV test, 26.1% never had been tested for HIV, 40.8% reported their last test was more than 12 months ago and 32.7% had been tested within the past 12 months.
“A key step to reducing the number of new HIV infections in the United States, as indicated in the national HIV/AIDS Strategy, is to increase the percentage of persons living with HIV who know their serostatus through HIV testing,” the authors wrote. “Persons aware of their HIV infection often take steps to reduce their risk behaviors substantially and can be referred for treatment and care, which can reduce HIV transmission.”
The survey findings represent “a serious public health concern,” the authors wrote. “Efforts to reduce stigma and make HIV testing accessible, affordable and culturally acceptable; improve linkage to HIV care and treatment; and implement interventions that address behavioral and structural factors that place low-SES heterosexuals at higher risk for contracting HIV infection could lead to reductions in HIV incidence and health inequities to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”
To read the complete report, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6210a2.htm?s_cid=mm6210a2_w. For more on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, visit http://aids.gov/federal-resources/national-hiv-aids-strategy/overview/.