The dramatic reduction in AIDS death rates during the modern antiretroviral (ARV) era has tended to elude minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the Los Angeles Times reported. The study compared death rates from 1993 to 1995 (before the advent of ARVs) to the period between 2005 and 2007 (the modern ARV era), with data on 91,307 men and women ages 25 to 64 across 26 states. The researchers then made cross sections of the data: between men and women; whites, blacks and Hispanics; and between education levels (which they used as a proxy for socioeconomic status): high school diploma or less (“least-educated”), some college or college degree, or graduate work (“most-educated”).

While death rates declined almost across the board, marked disparities grew between the two periods, with the antiretroviral era failing to benefit blacks and minority women, and those with low socioeconomic status, as compared with more educated whites. Most strikingly, black women saw virtually no change in death rates between the two periods. And by 2005–2007 the most educated white men had a death rate of two per 100,000 while the least educated black men had a mortality rate of 53 per 100,000.

The study's authors suggested that those with higher death rates may suffer from “a combined lack of knowledge of HIV prevention, lack of knowledge of their own HIV status, lack of access to the health care system, social stigma and marginalization.” They pressed for targeted interventions and other resources to identify high-risk individuals and for improved entry and retention into care for vulnerable populations with HIV.

For the LA Times article, click here.

For the study abstract, click here.