Raleigh - Durham women more at risk for HIV

April 18, 2012 2:16:07 PM PDT
A new study shows the rate of HIV infection amongst African American women in the Raleigh - Durham area is alarmingly high.

It concludes they're five times more likely to get the disease than in most other areas of the country.

The new data from the ISIS study (The Women's HIV Seroincidence Study) reflects an analysis of at-risk women in six urban areas of the United States that have some of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS: Baltimore, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C., Newark, and New York City.

"We're seeing HIV rates of infection among African American women that equal those of Sub-Sahara Africa," said John Paul Womble with the Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina.

From awareness to socio-economic status, health advocates say there are a number of reasons behind the shocking trend.

"You need to be aware. You need to be tested. What we're seeing is African American women disproportionately being impacted by HIV and AIDS and showing up in the emergency room already diagnosed with AIDS. There's no excuse for that," offered Womble.

But health advocates like Womble say getting the word out to those who need it most is one of their greatest challenges.

"We are years into this pandemic. We ought to be at a place now where testing is routine and testing is done everywhere," he said.

The state is working hard to combat the problem, but federal guidelines for testing often limit how health advocates can reach at-risk groups.

"We need to be knocking on doors. We need to be everywhere, anywhere we can be: barber shop, beauty salon," said Womble.

The research included 2099 women ages 18 to 44 who had never had a positive HIV test. Eighty-eight percent of the study participants were black, 12 percent Latina. At the time of enrollment, researchers found that 32 women were infected with HIV but were unaware of their status.

Within one year of joining the study, 0.24 percent of the women tested positive for the disease. And out of all the women enrolled, after a one-year follow-up, 10 had died of reasons unrelated to HIV.

Read more about the study at ABCNews.com

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