The correlation between poverty and an increased risk for contracting HIV/AIDS has recently been substantiated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In a recent study, it was shown that ‘about one in every 50 heterosexual Americans living in poorer urban neighborhoods is infected with HIV’. This is about 5 times the infection rate of the general population.
This study is particularly relevant as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of Maryland (DHMH) estimated that the Baltimore City-Towson area ranked as the metropolitan area with the 4th highest rate of adults living with HIV infection in the U.S. in 2010. When one looks at the DHMH-gathered rates of people living with HIV in Baltimore City, it is evident that non-Hispanic black populations are overrepresented in infection rates. According to the Census Bureau black and Hispanic populations are more likely to be poor in Maryland than people who are white or Asian.
So what needs to happen? According to CDC experts, there is a need to address the social, economic and other factors that affect poor, urban inhabitants including:
- Reducing the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS
- Making HIV testing accessible, affordable, and culturally acceptable
- Boosting access to care and treatment
On a personal level you can make a difference by getting yourself tested for HIV and encouraging others around you to as well. A comprehensive list of HIV/AIDS resources in Baltimore City can be found here, including testing sites. All Baltimore City STD clinics currently offer free and confidential HIV testing.