Poor U.S. cities suffering from AIDS epidemic, CDC study finds

Many low-income U.S. inner cities are suffering from an AIDS epidemic, according to a study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The analysis shows 2.1 percent of heterosexuals living in high-poverty urban areas in the United States are infected with HIV — meeting the definition of a generalized epidemic, according to the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS.

The new study identifies poverty as the most important demographic factor for HIV infection among inner-city heterosexuals. Among the inner-city poor, the study found no difference in infection prevalence by race or ethnicity.

“This study reveals a powerful link between poverty and HIV risk, and a widespread HIV epidemic in America’s inner cities,” Kevin Fenton, the director of the CDC’s AIDS center, said in a statement. “In this country, HIV clearly strikes the economically disadvantaged in a devastating way.”

The study is being presented this week at an annual international AIDS conference in Austria. It comes as the Obama administration last week unveiled an HIV/AIDS national strategy aimed at refocusing prevention and treatment efforts in areas that are most at risk.