Racial and ethnic disparities and implications for the prevention of HIV among persons who inject drugs

Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.
Current opinion in HIV and AIDS (Impact Factor: 4.68). 04/2012; 7(4):354-61. DOI: 10.1097/COH.0b013e328353d990
Source: PubMed


There are now an estimated 16 million people who inject drugs (PWID) throughout the world, 3 million of whom are estimated to be infected with HIV. In many countries, substantial proportions of PWID belong to racial/ethnic/nationality minority groups, and are at increased likelihood of being infected with HIV. This article reviews current evidence on ethnic disparities in HIV infection among PWID and assesses the issues that would need to be addressed to reduce these disparities.
An ongoing systematic review of ethnic disparities has found that, in a pooled weighted odds ratio, ethnic minority PWID are twice as likely to be HIV seropositive than ethnic majority, PWID from the same geographic area. If implemented with sufficient quality and coverage, current HIV prevention programs probably have the capability of ending HIV transmission among both ethnic majority and minority PWID. Large-scale, evidence-based prevention programs need to be implemented in the contexts of patterns of injecting drug use that continue to evolve-with injecting practices spreading to new areas, changes in drugs injected, and some transitions from injecting to noninjecting drug use. Lack of financial resources and policies against evidence-based programming are increasingly important problems that are likely to have particularly adverse effects on ethnic minority PWID.
Racial/ethnic/nationality disparities in HIV infection are quite common among PWID. Addressing these disparities will be a fundamental challenge within a human rights approach to public health.

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    • "We urge others working outside the US to explore the extent to which the construct ''racialized risk environment'' is relevant to PWID living in other countries. As noted earlier, a recent international meta-analysis of HIV prevalence among racial/ethnic minority PWID vs. racial/ethnic majority PWID found substantial disparities in many countries (Des Jarlais et al., 2012). Large disparities were noted in Canada (First Nations minority group), China (Uighur and various ''hill tribes'' as minority groups), and in Eastern and Central Europe (Roma as minority group). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Substantial racial/ethnic disparities exist in HIV infection among people who inject drugs (PWID) in many countries. To strengthen efforts to understand the causes of disparities in HIV-related outcomes and eliminate them, we expand the "Risk Environment Model" to encompass the construct "racialized risk environments," and investigate whether PWID risk environments in the United States are racialized. Specifically, we investigate whether black and Latino PWID are more likely than white PWID to live in places that create vulnerability to adverse HIV-related outcomes. Methods: As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, 9170 PWID were sampled from 19 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in 2009. Self-reported data were used to ascertain PWID race/ethnicity. Using Census data and other administrative sources, we characterized features of PWID risk environments at four geographic scales (i.e., ZIP codes, counties, MSAs, and states). Means for each feature of the risk environment were computed for each racial/ethnic group of PWID, and were compared across racial/ethnic groups. Results: Almost universally across measures, black PWID were more likely than white PWID to live in environments associated with vulnerability to adverse HIV-related outcomes. Compared to white PWID, black PWID lived in ZIP codes with higher poverty rates and worse spatial access to substance abuse treatment and in counties with higher violent crime rates. Black PWID were less likely to live in states with laws facilitating sterile syringe access (e.g., laws permitting over-the-counter syringe sales). Latino/white differences in risk environments emerged at the MSA level (e.g., Latino PWID lived in MSAs with higher drug-related arrest rates). Conclusion: PWID risk environments in the US are racialized. Future research should explore the implications of this racialization for racial/ethnic disparities in HIV-related outcomes, using appropriate methods.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · The International journal on drug policy
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    • "The elevated summary odds ratios for the US and China found in the meta-analysis of international data on HIV prevalence (Des Jarlais et al., 2012) suggest that drug distribution networks may contribute to ethnic minority group members being more likely to share injecting equipment with HIV seropositive partners. Illicit drug distribution frequently occurs in highly segregated ethnic minority communities of concentrated poverty. "
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    ABSTRACT: Racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection, with minority groups typically having higher rates of infection, are a formidable public health challenge. In the United States, among both men and women who inject drugs, HIV infection rates are elevated among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks. A meta-analysis of international research concluded that among persons who inject drugs, racial and ethnic minorities were twice as likely to acquire an HIV infection, though there was great variation across the individual studies. To examine strategies to reduce racial/ethnic disparities among persons who inject drugs, we reviewed studies on injection drug use and its role in HIV transmission. We identified four sets of evidence-based interventions that may reduce racial/ethnic disparities among persons who inject drugs: HIV counseling and testing, risk reduction services, access to antiretroviral therapy, and drug abuse treatment. Implementation of these services, however, is insufficient in many countries, including the United States. Persons who inject drugs appear to be changing drug use norms and rituals to reduce their risks. The challenges are to (a) develop a validated model of how racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection arise, persist, and are reduced or eliminated over time and (b) implement evidence-based services on a sufficient scale to eliminate HIV transmission among all persons who inject drugs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · American Psychologist
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    ABSTRACT: : In the United States, racial differences in the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection and AIDS diagnoses are dramatic. These differences are large, have been recognized for nearly 20 years, and are as yet not well investigated. These disparities show no signs of diminishing and, in fact, are widening, particularly among drug users and women. Most observers of the racial disparities in prevalence and incidence of HIV infections and AIDS diagnoses in the United States have concluded that these disparities exist because prevention messages, supplies, and/or interventions do not effectively reach those at greatest risk of infection. In essence, such interpretations suggest that Blacks and Latinos continue to practice more risk behaviors than Whites. There are much data to suggest that this is, in fact, not true. Evidence from 232 'index' injection drug users and 465 of their drug and sexual network members participating in HIV Prevention Trials Network 037 is presented. These data describe lower use and/or access to drug treatment and needle exchange programs by Black injectors. In addition, data indicate the coexistence of increased prevalence of HIV in the networks of uninfected Black drug users and fewer associated risk behaviors in the networks of Black and Latino indices compared with networks of White indices. Understanding racial disparities in HIV is a critical challenge; yet, risk behaviors alone do not explain observed disparities in infection rates.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
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