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Examination of Inequalities in HIV/AIDS Mortality in the United States From a Fundamental Cause Perspective

Publication Abstract

Rubin, M.S., Cynthia Colen, and B.G. Link. 2010. "Examination of Inequalities in HIV/AIDS Mortality in the United States From a Fundamental Cause Perspective." American Journal of Public Health, 100(6): 1053-1059.

Objectives. We examined changes in socioeconomic status (SES) and Black to White inequalities in HIV/AIDS mortality in the United States before and after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Methods. Taking a fundamental cause perspective, we used negative binomial regression to analyze trends in county-level gender-, race-, and age-specific HIV/AIDS mortality rates among those aged 15 to 64 years during the period 1987 2005. Results. Although HIV/AIDS mortality rates decreased once HAART became available, the declines were not uniformly distributed among population groups. The associations between SES and HIV/AIDS mortality and between race and HIV/AIDS mortality, although present in the pre-HAART period, were significantly greater in the peri- and post-HAART periods, with higher SES and White race associated with the greatest declines in mortality during the post-HAART period. Conclusions. Our findings support the fundamental cause hypothesis, as the introduction of a life-extending treatment exacerbated inequalities in HIV/AIDS mortality by SES and by race. In addition to a strong focus on factors that improve overall population health, more effective public health interventions and policies would facilitate an equitable distribution of health-enhancing innovations. (Am J Public Health. 2010;100:1053-1059. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.170241)

DOI:10.2105/ajph.2009.170241 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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