low-income urban areas across the United States have epidemics
of HIV, with 2.1 percent of heterosexuals in poverty-stricken
urban areas infected with the incurable AIDS virus, U.S.
scientists said on Monday.
In a study of rates of HIV
across the United States, researchers from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that poverty is the
single most important factor linked to HIV infection among
"In this country, HIV
clearly strikes the economically disadvantaged in a devastating
way," said CDC HIV/AIDS expert Kevin Fenton, whose findings were
presented at an international conference on AIDS in Vienna.
He said the research showed
there was "a widespread HIV epidemic in America's inner cities."
More than 1.1 million people
in the United States are infected with the human
immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, according to the CDC,
and there are around 56,000 new infections there every year.
Many studies have shown that
blacks, gay and bisexual men and Hispanics are the most affected
groups, and Fenton said this study found heterosexuals in the
poorest city neighborhoods are also hit hard. The researchers
found no differences in HIV prevalence by race or ethnicity in
heterosexuals in poor areas.
The United Nations Joint
Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) defines an HIV epidemic as one
where prevalence in the general population is more than 1
The CDC analysis looked only
at heterosexuals and did not include gay and bisexual men, sex
workers, or injecting drugs users, who are often the highest
It found that HIV rates were
especially high among the poorest people. Those living below the
poverty line were at greater risk for HIV than those living
above it -- with rates of 2.4 percent versus 1.2 percent -- and
prevalence for both groups was far higher than the national
average of 0.45 percent.
"This analysis points to an
urgent need to prioritize HIV prevention efforts in
disadvantaged communities," said Jonathan Mermin of the CDC's
HIV/AIDS prevention division.
U.S. President Barack Obama
last week set out a new domestic AIDS policy which asked states
and federal agencies to find ways to cut new infections by 25
percent, get more patients treated quickly and educate Americans
But the plan did not include
any new funding above the $19 billion the United States already
spends a year on domestic HIV prevention, care and research.