Black Blood Donors 25 Times
More Likely To Have AIDS
Study shows racial divide in AIDS
CHICAGO (AP) - Blacks donating blood for the first time are 25 times more likely than whites to have recently acquired HIV infections, according to research which seems to document a growing racial divide in AIDS cases.
The research announced Tuesday examined blood donors, who are among the least likely of all people to be infected. Those who do risky things, such as inject drugs, are discouraged from giving. And since most donors do so repeatedly, they have already passed earlier screening tests.
Recently, scientists developed a method of testing blood that reveals whether the infection is new or long-standing. They used it to look for fresh infections among people across the country who were giving blood for the first time.
Dr. Michael P. Busch and others from the Blood Centers of the Pacific in San Francisco used the new method to analyze the samples of 1.7 million first-time donors. Of the total, 427 were HIV-infected. The new test revealed that 58 of them had been infected within the previous few weeks.
The analysis showed that about 2 of every 100,000 white donors annually are newly infected, compared with 51 per 100,000 among blacks and less than four among Hispanics and Asians.
Researchers said the results indicate that AIDS is evolving from being largely an illness of white homosexuals to one of poor blacks who catch it through drug abuse and heterosexual encounters.
Nationally, more than half of all HIV infections are among blacks.
Dr. Martha Rogers of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the latest data reflect ''the well-recognized shift in the epidemic to people of color.''
Among other findings of the study:
* The number of new infections among first-time donors remained steady between 1993 and 1996, the years sampled. * Men were twice as likely as women to be infected. * Infections among new donors were highest in the South, where there were 25 infections per 100,000, and lowest in the central and western parts of the country, where there were less than 2.
The data were presented Tuesday at the 6th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.
Among other reports at the meeting, researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, showed that about 15% of men on powerful AIDS medicines still have measurable amounts of the virus in their semen. Doctors have hoped that the drugs would reduce virus levels so low that infected people will be less likely to spread HIV.