Deaths among African-Americans in Missouri due to AIDS-related complications rose 3% between 2001 and 2002, while the AIDS death rate dropped among whites by 39%, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Blacks account for about 12% of the state's population but made up 57% of AIDS-related deaths and account for 44% of the state's AIDS cases.
"We're seeing a disproportionate infection and death rate among minority populations in St. Louis and many other urban areas across the country," Carole Bernard of the National Minority AIDS Council told the Post-Dispatch.
Economic, social, political, and cultural factors all are contributing to the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS among African-Americans. But AIDS-related stigma may be one of the biggest contributors. "The greatest tragedy for the African-American community is that so many people could be helped with their HIV infection, but they never come forward to be tested and treated," said Darren E. Wethers, a local internist with a large HIV practice.