The distribution of AIDS in America by race/ethnicity
Since HIV and AIDS epidemic began, more than half a million people have already died in USA because of AIDS (Steven, 2007, pp. 1221-1228). Currently there are over one million people who are living with AIDS in USA and approximately fifth of them are not aware that they are infected thus posing a very high risk of transmission (Clark, 2006). The response of American’s towards AIDS has been producing some mixed results. Efforts to prevent HIV have not always been successful since each year around 56,000 people get infected (Mary, Harold, Joseph et al, 2010, pp. 105). In the year 2009, Washington DC had a prevalence of 3% infection among people who were 12 years and above (Michael, 2010, pp. 11). Discrimination and stigma towards people suffering from HIV is still persisting as thousands of people who are uninsured thrash about to access antiretroviral therapy and HIV care. Though HIV and AIDS is affecting and do affect all people in USA the impact and prevalence have been graver among some certain groups. This paper aims at analyzing and giving in details the distribution of AIDS in USA by race and ethnicity and the social reasons behind the difference in prevalence.
During the early years of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the most vulnerable groups in USA were homosexuals, Haitians, hemophiliacs and the injecting drug users (Blake. 2003, Pp. 81). Today, AIDS have continuously been affecting these groups though it has been a very serious problem among the black Americans as well as Latino and Hispanic population (Kathy & John, pp. 68). It is not usually the individual behavior that determines individuals risk to HIV in USA but rather the individual’s sexual network. The black males are at high risk of infection because of the high prevalence of this particular community and the main tendency they have of choosing similar racial partners.
Wealth status also is a main determinant of the likelihood of infection in USA. In a study done in the year 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it revealed that in USA the poorest neighborhoods that lived in the urban areas had a prevalence of 2.1% among the heterosexuals (CDC, 2010). During this time, ethnicity and race did not account for the differences within the poverty groups that were studied.
The African American has been disproportionately affected by HIV epidemic in years. Today, the black Americans do account for approximately 51% of all AIDS related cases of deaths (William, Carlos & Robert, 2005, pp. 1313). Both the African American male and females are at high risk of being infected through homosexuality, injection of drugs and other factors like high levels of poverty, lack of effective healthcare as well as stigma that does surround homosexuals.
Poverty which is a major contributor to AIDS has affected most African Americans. Poverty as well as disadvantaged upbringing causes the youths to drop out of school thus preventing them from accessing stable employment and as a result losing their self worth. Nearly quarter of all Black Americans live in poverty (Linda, David & Caroline, 2008, pp 42). Social background has also resulted to poverty thus leading to infection. Some of the social contextual factors for example racism have led to unemployment and inability of the Black Americans to get mortgage.
Stigma as well as discrimination has led life to be quite difficult for the people who live with HIV since it prevents public discussions and also leaves the people afraid to get tested.
Prisons have also contributed to the spread of AIDS on USA. Approximately one in 20 black men is in prison (Paul, 2007, pp. 5). Most black males get infected in jails and hence infect their female partners when they are released. The other social issue that has brought a major difference is the genetic factors. Most people of European descent have small genetic mutation and make them immune to resistance to HIV (James, 2008, pp. 13). It affects 10% of Caucasians. The Native Americans are less affected by HIV than the African Americans though they lack the CCR5 receptor mutation. (James, 2008).
Today, more than 230,000 black Americans have already died because of AIDS (Bethune, 2005, pp. 1-4). Approximately 40% of all deaths and of more than one million people who are living with HIV and AIDS in USA almost half of them are blacks (James, 2008). The estimated risk of infection of people with HIV is 1 in 16 for the black males and for the black females is 1 in 30 (Cynthia, 2010, pp. 272). On the other hand for the whites the risk of infection is 1 in 104 for the males and for the female is 1 in 588 (Cynthia, 2010, pp. 273). In Washington DC where there is high AIDS prevalence, 76% of all those who have been infected are all African Americans.
Hispanics or Latinos are also disproportionately affected by HIV epidemic in USA. The number of deaths have remained stable since 2000 though there have been a decline in AIDS mortality. Some of the identified social factors that have led to the Latino community to be immensely affected by HIV are cultural factors, language barrier, and lack of health care, migration patterns which have led to barriers to treatment of HIV. The Hispanics do represent around 15% of the total population though they account for around 17% of all people living with AIDS and 17% of new infections (Dianne, 2007, pp. 255). The rate of new infections among the Latinos is double that of the white men and for women it is four times that of the white female (Dianne, 2007). In the year 2008, among 37 states, the number of American Indians who were diagnosed with HIV was 220. Other groups like Asian, Black Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiian, Whites and multiple races were 444, 21,289, 7,121, 33, 11,777 and 384 respectively (CDC, 2010). There have been few cases of AIDS that have been reported among the smaller communities and hence they require social and medical services that do burden the rural health system (Shari & Patricia, 2008, pp. 11-19).
Disparities have emerged among various groups in USA because of various social factors. The African Americans have been most affected followed by the Latinos and the whites. Some of the social factors are stigma, poverty, homosexuality, discrimination, prisons, genetic factors, lack of health care, injection of drugs and others. To curb or reduce cases of new infections something ought to be done in order to address these social factors.
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