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Over 16% Testing HIV Positive in US Are Born Outside the Country

Author: Mark Mascolini


08 August 2012

From 2007 through 2010, slightly more than 16% of people diagnosed with HIV in the United States were born outside the United States. Among Hispanics diagnosed with HIV in the United States, more than 42% were born outside the country. Among Asians that rate was 64%.

People born outside the United States make up about 13% of the US population. But as a group their HIV epidemiologic features had not been systematically studied until this analysis of HIV diagnoses from 2007 through 2010 in 46 US states and 5 US territories by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC team defined “foreign born” as people born outside the USA and its territories, including naturalized citizens. They culled demographic characteristics and HIV transmission risk factors from the National HIV Surveillance System.

Of the 191,697 people in the United States diagnosed with HIV from 2007 through 2010, 30,995 (16.2%) were born outside the country. Among the 25,255 newly diagnosed people with a specified country or region of birth outside the United States, 10,343 (41.0%) were from Central America and Mexico, 5418 (21.5%) were from the Caribbean, and 3656 (14.5%) were from Africa.

Almost three quarters (73.5%) of people born outside the United States and diagnosed from 2007 through 2012 were male. California, Florida, New York, and Texas reported the highest numbers of newly diagnosed HIV-positive people born outside the United States. Those states were also the top 4 overall reporters of new HIV cases.

Among 42,431 Hispanics diagnosed with HIV during the study period, 17,913 (42.2%) were born outside the United States, as were 1987 of 3088 Asians (64.3%), 8614 of 86,547 blacks (10.0%), and 1841 of 55,574 whites (3.3%).

The percentage of people infected with HIV during heterosexual sex in the study years was 39.4% among those born outside the United States and 27.2% among those born inside the country.

“Compared with US-born persons diagnosed with HIV,” the CDC researchers conclude, “persons born outside the United States were more likely to attribute HIV transmission to heterosexual contact and were more likely to be Hispanic or Asian.”

The CDC team notes that “these findings demonstrate the diversity of the HIV-infected population born outside the United States, presenting many clinical and public health challenges.”

Source: Adria Tassy Prosser, Tian Tang, H. Irene Hall. HIV in persons born outside the United States, 2007-2010. JAMA. Online 22 July 2012.

For the study abstract