Today’s Infectious Disease News (11/27/22)

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A Disproportionate Number of Black Women are Not Receiving the HIV Care They Need

Black women in the US are facing great inequities in HIV care. Despite accounting for more than 57% of new HIV cases in 2018, Black women received inferior healthcare on average than White women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 9 Black women are don’t know they are living with the virus. One major problem is that Black women are often not receiving and taking PrEP, highly effective preventive medications. In 2015, 500,000 Black people were good candidates to be on PrEP, but just 7,000 prescriptions were filled for these patients. The contrast for White patients is stark. Of the 300,000 white patients who could have benefited from the medicine in 2015, over 40,000 prescriptions were filled. Black transgender women experience an even greater burden from HIV, as 62% of Black transgender women reported being diagnosed with the virus.

Multiple causes contribute to these healthcare disparities. A major structural barrier is a lack of access to affordable and quality healthcare, which Black and trans women experience at much higher rates than the general population. Homophobia and structural racism continue to impede many people from getting proper care. Stigma of surrounding HIV is also a major deterrent against people seeking or receiving the help they need. Women also have fewer preventative medication options than men. The FDA has approved only Truvada and Apretude for women, but it approved Descovy for men. Descovy was tested exclusively on men. Public health experts assert that when women’s health is overlooked in research and outreach, these serious health disparities are the result. “Information about safety during pregnancy was gathered later on in the process”, said Maria Nicole Pyra, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University. “We do a disservice to women, and we saw this in COVID as well, when we don’t find ways to safely include pregnant people because we don’t have the information to counsel them”.

Full Story: USA Today