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Heterosexually Transmitted HIV Infection Among African Americans in North Carolina

Adimora, Adaora A. MD, MPH*†; Schoenbach, Victor J. PhD†; Martinson, Francis E. A. MB, CHB, MPH, PhD*; Coyne-Beasley, Tamera MD, MPH*‡; Doherty, Irene PhD, MPH*; Stancil, Tonya R. PhD, MPH*§; Fullilove, Robert E. EdD∥

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: 15 April 2006 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - pp 616-623
doi: 10.1097/01.qai.0000191382.62070.a5
Epidemiology and Social Science

Context: Rates of heterosexually transmitted HIV infection among African Americans in the southeastern United States greatly exceed those for whites.

Objective: Determine risk factors for heterosexually transmitted HIV infection among African Americans.

Methods: Population-based case-control study of black men and women, aged 18-61 years, reported to the North Carolina state health department with a recent diagnosis of heterosexually transmitted HIV infection and age- and gender-matched controls randomly selected from the state driver s license file. A lower-risk stratum of respondents was created to identify transmission risks among people who denied high-risk behaviors.

Results: Most case subjects reported annual household income <$16,000, history of sexually transmitted diseases, and high-risk behaviors, including crack cocaine use and sex partners who injected drugs or used crack cocaine. However, 27% of case subjects (and 69% of control subjects) denied high-risk sexual partners or behavior. Risk factors for HIV infection in this subset of participants were less than high school education (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 5.0; 95% CI: 2.2, 11.1), recent concern about having enough food for themselves or their family (OR 3.7; 1.5, 8.9), and having a sexual partner who was not monogamous during the relationship with the respondent (OR 2.9; 1.3, 6.4).

Conclusion: Although most heterosexually transmitted HIV infection among African Americans in the South is associated with established high-risk characteristics, poverty may be an underlying determinant of these behaviors and a contributor to infection risk even in people who do not have high-risk behaviors.

From the *Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC; †Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC; ‡Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC; §National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA; and ∥Community Research Group, Columbia University School of Public Health, New York, NY.

Received for publication January 6, 2005; accepted October 10, 2005.

Supported by National Institutes of Health grant 1R01 AI 39176-01 and 1K02 AI01867-01 (to A. A. A.)

Reprints: Adaora A. Adimora, Division of Infectious Diseases, 130 Mason Farm Road, CB #7030, Bioinformatics Building, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7030 (e-mail: adimora@med.unc.edu).

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.