AIDS has had a disproportionate effect on the African-American community in the United States when compared to other ethnic groups. The AIDS rate in Los Angeles County in 1996 for African-American men was two times higher than the comparable rate for white men and three times higher than the rate for Latino men. It is not entirely clear why African-American men have such high AIDS rates, as there are limited data that examine in detail high-risk sexual and drug-using behaviors for this group. A phenomenon has been described in which heterosexual African-American men in jail or prison have unprotected sex with men who are HIV positive, and African-American men are incarcerated disproportional to their numbers, potentially explaining the large representation of African-American men with AIDS. In addition, there is widespread injection drug use, needle sharing and tattooing in prisons, adding to the risk of HIV transmission. The evaluation of risk factors for HIV for African-American men will provide important data needed to guide prevention efforts in the African-American community in Los Angeles.
- To characterize the high-risk sexual and drug-using behaviors that are associated with HIV risk for African-American men living in Los Angeles County.
- To examine the role that incarceration and behaviors during incarceration play in HIV risk for African-American men living in Los Angeles County.
A case-control study is being conducted to identify 305 HIV-infected African-American men and 305 uninfected neighborhood controls. The cases are being recruited at the three large county medical centers (Martin Luther King-Drew Medical Center - Oasis Clinic, Lac-USC Medical Center - 5P21, and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center - AIDS Clinic) who report the majority of AIDS cases in African-American men in Los Angeles. All cases and controls are administered a detailed questionnaire on high-risk sexual and drug-using behaviors; incarceration histories; and high-risk behaviors during incarceration.
Amy Wohl, Ph.D.
Denise Johnson, M.P.H.