Black Teen Girls at Very High Risk for HIV Infection
Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Sexually active black teenage girls are at particular risk for infection with the virus that causes AIDS, but specially tailored prevention programs built around race and culture can help reduce their risk, according to a new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Adolescents are acknowledged as a population at increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Among adolescents, African American girls are a subgroup at particularly high risk of HIV infection," writes Ralph J. DiClemente of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, the report's lead author.
But until now, "no intervention designed specifically for this population has demonstrated efficacy in reducing HIV-associated risk behaviors," Mr. DiClemente adds.
As for the risk HIV poses black female teens, Mr. DiClemente cites a study of Job Corps applicants that found the virus prevalence in this group was "significantly higher than among their white or Hispanic peers" and also exceeds that of white, Hispanic and black male adolescents.
The report in JAMA, which had a total of 13 contributors, noted that the Job Corps study found that black teenage girls had an HIV prevalence rate of 4.9 per 1,000. That compared with rates of 0.7 and 0.6 per 1,000 for Hispanic and white girls, respectively.
Among teenage boys, HIV prevalence among blacks was 3.2 per 1,000; 1.5 per 1,000 for Hispanics; and 0.8 per 1,000 for whites, the study says.
"African American adolescent girls in the South had the highest prevalence (6.4 per 1,000) relative to adolescents from other geographic regions," Mr. DiClemente writes.
The report by Emory investigators, which is to be presented this weekend at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, comes one month after the release of frightening data by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC data show that AIDS is the leading cause of death among black women ages 25 and 34 in the United States and that it is also one of the top killers of black women ages 20 to 44. …