Overall declines in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mortality may mask patterns for subgroups, and prior studies of disparities in mortality have used area-level vs individual-level socioeconomic status measures. The aim of this study was to examine temporal trends in HIV mortality by sex, race/ethnicity, and individual level of education (as a proxy for socioeconomic status).
We examined HIV deaths among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic men and women aged 25 to 64 years in 26 states (1993-2007; N = 91 307) reported to the National Vital Statistics System. The main outcome measures were age-standardized HIV death rates, rate differences, and rate ratios by educational attainment and between the least- and the most-educated (≤12 vs ≥16 years) individuals.
Between 1993-1995 and 2005-2007, mortality declined for most men and women by race/ethnicity and educational levels, with the greatest absolute decreases for nonwhites owing to their higher baseline rates. Among men with the most education, rates per 100 000 population decreased from 117.89 (95% CI, 101.08-134.70) to 15.35 (12.08-18.62) in blacks vs from 26.42 (24.93-27.92) to 1.79 (1.50-2.08) in whites. Rates were unchanged for the least-educated black women (26.76; 95% CI, 24.30-29.23; during 2005-2007) and remained high for similarly educated black men (52.71; 48.96-56.45). Relative declines were greater with increasing levels of education (P < .001), resulting in widening disparities. Among men, the disparity rate ratio (comparing the least and the most educated) increased from 1.04 (95% CI, 0.89-1.21) during 1993-1995 to 3.43 (2.74-4.30) during 2005-2007 for blacks and from 0.98 (0.91-1.05) to 2.82 (2.34-3.40) for whites.
Although absolute declines in HIV mortality were greatest for nonwhites, rates remain high among blacks, especially in the lowest educated groups, underscoring the need for additional interventions.