The Atlantic marks the 24th annual World AIDS Day with essays and ideas.
More than three decades into the HIV and AIDS epidemic, minorities continue to bear the brunt of new infections. Here’s a look at where the U.S. stands on infections:
RATES OF INFECTION AMONG MINORITY POPULATIONS
Public-health researchers have well-documented trends that show people of color are disproportionally affected by the disease: More than 70 percent of new HIV cases in 2010 involved minorities, and half of the 150 people infected in the U.S. each day are black, according to a PBS documentary.
Black men are 9.5 times more likely to die of AIDS than their white counterparts, primarily because they get tested later and are more likely to lack health insurance.
Black women, who are 20 times more likely to die from AIDS, are especially endangered. In 2009, AIDS was the third leading cause of death for black men and women between the ages of 35 and 44.
An estimated 22 percent of all new AIDS cases in 2010 were Latinos, significantly higher than their share of the population, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This population is nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS, as well as 2.5 times more likely to die from it than their white counterparts.
People of color accounted for nearly 71 percent of the newly diagnosed cases of HIV infections in 2010, even though they accounted for 35 percent of the U.S. population, according to data from the Office of Minority Health.
More than 80 percent of children born with HIV are minorities.
A Huffington Post package about the AIDS and HIV rate among Hispanics includes a gallery that cites CDC figures that estimate 1 of every 36 Latino men will receive an HIV diagnosis, compared to 1 in 106 Latinas.
THE COSTS OF INFECTION
A 2006 study estimated that the toll of all new HIV infections in the country costs taxpayers an estimated $36.4 billion, higher than previous estimates, including $6.7 billion in direct medical costs and $29.7 billion in productivity losses. The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome study calculated indirect costs, such as the value of lost productivity due to an illness, disability, and premature death.
At $838,000 per year, Hispanics experienced the highest levels of productivity losses, the report noted. Contributing to the costs is the fact that minorities tend to get diagnosed later after contraction and lack the finances or health insurance to obtain anti-retroviral therapy, a cocktail of drugs used to suppress the HIV virus. Productivity losses for blacks ($766,800) were also higher than for whites ($180,900).
Physician Carlos del Rio, a professor at Emory University School of Medicine and a report coauthor, said that documenting costs by race is essential to ensure policymakers allocate public-health funds where they are needed the most. In general, minority populations are likely to be uninsured. Getting tested and treated early would cost less than having to treat AIDS-related complications later on, he told The Next America.