Race, education linked to HIV mortality rates


LOS ANGELES — While widespread use of multidrug treatment regimens have sharply reduced HIV-related deaths, mortality rates remain disproportionately high for African-Americans, especially those with limited education, according to a new study.

In what is believed to be the first analysis of its kind, researchers assessed HIV mortality rates among different racial and ethnic groups and accounted for gender and level of education.

Among other findings, authors wrote that HIV death rates were significantly elevated among blacks, relative to whites, within every education category.

“HIV has risen in prominence as a cause of death for blacks while simultaneously falling in prominence for whites,” wrote lead author Edgar Simard, senior epidemiologist for the American Cancer Society. “It was the ninth leading cause of death among blacks vs. the 24th leading cause of death among whites in 2007.”

The analysis, which was published Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine, reviewed records for more than 91,000 HIV-related deaths among adults between 1993 and 2007.

The use of highly active anti-retroviral therapy, or HAART, for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection began in 1996. Since that time, HIV mortality rates have dropped significantly for all groups except black women with 12 or fewer years of education, authors wrote.

Among men with the most education, mortality rates per 100,000 people decreased from 118 to 15 for blacks and from 26 to 2 for whites. The mortality rate for black women with low education remained steady at 27 per 100,000.