AIDS disparity: Pitt shares a major grant to study behavior

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AIDS does not discriminate. Anyone exposed to HIV/​AIDS can catch it through any number of proven pathways. Unprotected sex and contaminated needles are two of the most efficient ways of contracting it, so caution and vigilance are key.

African-American males are 11 percent of the population of southwestern Pennsylvania, but they represent 44 percent to 46 percent of those with HIV/​AIDS. The rate of infection among black men is not only out of proportion to the general population of AIDS sufferers here, but the pattern repeats itself across the country.

Despite the fact that black gay men are generally more conservative in their sexual behavior than their white counterparts, their infection rates are much higher. This counterintuitive result has frustrated scientists searching for ways to address the disease.

Thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and the Center for Black Equity in Washington, D.C., will be able to team up to conduct an unprecedented study of behavior of 6,000 black gay men in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington.

Pitt should be proud of its selection to share in this important grant. We wish the graduate school well in its work toward unraveling one of the mysteries of this terrible disease.

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