African-American AIDS Patients in San Francisco Die Faster Than White, Latino Patients, Study Finds
African-American AIDS patients in San Francisco die more quickly than white and Latino AIDS patients, according to a study conducted by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The study, which the department will present next month at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, examined the survival rates for African-American, white and Latino AIDS patients in the city. In the three years before 1996 -- when combination antiretroviral therapy became "widespread" -- about 59% of white patients and a similar percentage of Latino patients survived for five years after they received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to 49% of African-American patients. In the four-year period after 1996, about 79% of white and Latino patients and 71% of African-American patients survived for five years after they received an AIDS diagnosis. Dr. Sandy Schwarcz, co-director of the San Francisco public health department's AIDS epidemiology branch and a study co-author, attributed the lower survival rate among African Americans to the fact that they are less likely to take antiretroviral drugs than whites and Latinos. However, she said that the disparity in antiretroviral use between racial groups is puzzling because San Francisco has "particularly aggressive programs" to provide antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients. Schwarcz said that cultural factors, such as a distrust of the medical profession, may play a part in the disparity but added that more research needs to be conducted to determine the reasons behind the disparity and what steps need to be taken to "close the survival gap" (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.