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Open Access Research article

Black race as a predictor of poor health outcomes among a national cohort of HIV/AIDS patients admitted to US hospitals: a cohort study

Christine U Oramasionwu12, Jonathan M Hunter2, Jeff Skinner3, Laurajo Ryan12, Kenneth A Lawson1, Carolyn M Brown1, Brittany R Makos12 and Christopher R Frei12*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Pharmacy, The University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA

2 Department of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA

3 The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:127  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-127

Published: 11 August 2009

Abstract

Background

In general, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) population has begun to experience the benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART); unfortunately, these benefits have not extended equally to Blacks in the United States, possibly due to differences in patient comorbidities and demographics. These differences include rates of hepatitis B and C infection, substance use, and socioeconomic status. To investigate the impact of these factors, we compared hospital mortality and length of stay (LOS) between Blacks and Whites with HIV/AIDS while adjusting for differences in these key characteristics.

Methods

The 1996–2006 National Hospital Discharge Surveys were used to identify HIV/AIDS patients admitted to US hospitals. Survey weights were incorporated to provide national estimates. Patients < 18 years of age, those who left against medical advice, those with an unknown discharge disposition and those with a LOS < 1 day were excluded. Patients were stratified into subgroups by race (Black or White). Two multivariable logistic regression models were constructed with race as the independent variable and outcomes (mortality and LOS > 10 days) as the dependent variables. Factors that were significantly different between Blacks and Whites at baseline via bivariable statistical tests were included as covariates.

Results

In the general US population, there are approximately 5 times fewer Blacks than Whites. In the present study, 1.5 million HIV/AIDS hospital discharges were identified and Blacks were 6 times more likely to be hospitalized than Whites. Notably, Blacks had higher rates of substance use (30% vs. 24%; P < 0.001), opportunistic infections (27% vs. 26%; P < 0.001) and cocaine use (13% vs. 5%; P < 0.001). Conversely, fewer Blacks were co-infected with hepatitis C virus (8% vs. 12%; P < 0.001). Hepatitis B virus was relatively infrequent (3% for both groups). Crude mortality rates were similar for both cohorts (5%); however, a greater proportion of Blacks had a LOS > 10 days (21% vs. 19%; P < 0.001). Black race, in the presence of comorbidities, was correlated with a higher odds of LOS > 10 days (OR, 95% CI = 1.20 [1.10–1.30]), but was not significantly correlated with a higher odds of mortality (OR, 95% CI = 1.07 [0.93–1.25]).

Conclusion

Black race is a predictor of LOS > 10 days, but not mortality, among HIV/AIDS patients admitted to US hospitals. It is possible that racial disparities in hospital outcomes may be closing with time.