Young African Americans At High Risk for HIV, STDs, Even At Low Levels of Risk Behavior
Results of a study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest that young African American adults — but not young white adults — are at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases even when their relative level of risk behaviors is low.
Schmalfeldt: Results of a study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest that young African American adults — but not young white adults — are at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases even when their relative level of risk behaviors is low. These findings imply that the marked racial disparities in the prevalence of these diseases are not exclusively affected by individual risk behaviors.
Normand: There is more than just risky behaviors involved because for equal patterns of risk behavior there's disparate likelihood of getting infected with an STD or HIV. The findings are not surprising — we kind of knew this. What is really new about this study is that it is one of the few that has actually tried to look at the pattern of risk behaviors and how much it contributes to the observed disparities we've seen for years in this country across ethnic groups.
Schmalfeldt: That was Dr. Jacques Normand, Director of the AIDS Research Program at NIDA. He explained what needs to be determined in future research on this issue.
Normand: There's two fronts on that. One is to find out exactly what the underlying causal mechanisms are — what are the key factors that are facilitating the observed disparities that we're seeing. And, two, is what kind of prevention interventions would be more effective in trying to address those disparities that we're observing.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Normand said environmental, institutional and contextual influences — such as differences in social and dating patterns, are among the many factors identified by researchers that may play a role in one's risk for HIV. The study authors recommend continuing a proactive strategy to reach all African American young adults, including universal screening and expanding information, testing and treatment services to non-traditional venues, such as churches, beauty salons and barber shops, colleges, prisons and jails. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Jacques Normand
Topic: HIV, STDs