ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A study led by the University at Albany has found that racial and ethnic disparities remain in HIV diagnoses among heterosexually active adults in the United States, although HIV infections rates are on the decline in national surveys. Officials say this would suggest a system-wide failure in preventing HIV among Black and Latina women in particular.

According to the study the number of heterosexually active adults by state, race and ethnicity, and sex was estimated by a meta-analysis of several national surveys. Researchers said HIV diagnoses were then placed on top of this data to determine rates, broken down by race and ethnicity, based on sex and state.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, found that heterosexually active women had a higher HIV diagnosis rate than heterosexually active men. Researchers estimate Black adults had a 20-fold higher HIV diagnosis rate, and Hispanic adults had a 4-fold higher diagnosis rate compared to white heterosexually active adults.

In collaboration with the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Emory University the research team’s approach to developing denominators of heterosexually active adults was determined to be the more appropriate method for calculating population rates. The first study they say was led by Bahareh Ansari, a doctoral student in the Information Science program used to develop these population estimates at a state level, although there were existing estimates of population rates.

The research study was conducted by the Coalition for Applied Modeling and Prevention (CAMP), a cooperative agreement funded by the CDC which has been based at UAlbany’s School of Public Health since 2019. In collaboration with academic partners CAMP develops epidemiological and economic models to predict the answers to important public health questions.

“Focused efforts are needed to lessen persistent racial and ethnic disparities in HIV prevention and treatment,” says Erika Martin an associate professor in the University’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and lead author of the paper. “Further coordinated federal responses may help to ensure that the needs of all communities are met, particularly if interventions are culturally responsive.”