The death rate among black people living with HIV fell by 28% over the past few years, but the annual number of deaths within this group remains much higher compared with other racial groups, according to a government report released this week.
The rate of mortality for black people ages 13 and above living with HIV decreased from 28.4 deaths per 1,000 HIV patients in 2008 to 20.5 deaths by 2012, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.
The number of deaths among black HIV patients decreased by 18% during the study period, from 9,920 deaths reported in 2008 to 8,165 in 2012. The numbers show survival rates have improved for black HIV patients, but they still reflect large disparities when compared with whites and Hispanics. The death rate in 2012 among blacks living with HIV was 13% higher than the rate for whites and 47% higher than the rate for Hispanics.
Deaths among whites with HIV totaled 5,426 in 2012 and 2,586 among Hispanics. Both groups experienced a smaller decline in deaths between 2008 and 2012 compared to blacks.
“The results of the analyses in this report show that, although disparities in mortality by race/ethnicity persist, the overall outlook for all persons living with HIV has improved, and the gaps between different races/ethnicities have narrowed,” the report concluded.
“Focusing prevention and care efforts on minority populations with a disproportionate HIV burden could lead to further reduction, if not elimination, of health disparities, such as higher mortality, and help achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”
Florida has the highest number of deaths among blacks living with HIV, with 1,147 reported in 2012 compared with 306 among Hispanics and 538 deaths reported among whites.
Blacks continue to make up the largest share of new HIV infections in the U.S. Blacks accounted for 47% of all people who received a HIV diagnosis in 2012, and were 43% of those living with the virus in 2011.
The report did offer an explanation as to why the death rate among blacks fell. A previous CDC report on HIV care among blacks found that they were less likely to receive HIV care, remain in care, take antiretroviral medications, or achieve viral suppression compared with other racial groups.
That report found 75% of blacks who were diagnosed with HIV in 2010 were getting linked to clinical care while only 48% were retained in care. Less than half of blacks with HIV were prescribed antiretroviral therapy and only 35% achieved viral suppression.
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