The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature on the biological effects of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in minority populations. For the purposes of this review, AIDS shall be generally defined as immunosuppression occurring as a result of contraction of the "HIV" virus' attack on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes) in the human blood (1).
In order to understand the biological impact of AIDS on minority populations, it is necessary to understand a bit of the sociopolitical realities that demarcate minority groups from the dominant cultural group in America. In particular, it is important to note that minorities tend to be economically and educationally disadvantaged populations. These depressing realities consequent in a higher prevalence of some at-risk behaviors for minority groups (2). High risk behaviors, according to Mason and associates (2) include such behaviors as illicit intravenous drug use, prostitution, multiple sex partners, contraction of STD, and use of immosuppressant drugs.
Intravenous drug use, prostitution (and therefore the likelihood of contraction of sexually transmitted disease) and other forms of drug use such as the use of immosuppressant drugs tend to be engaged in by great numbers of urban minorities. For example, the contraction of AIDS through the sharing of needles and syringes, a process wherein there is a mutual exchange of bodily fluids, is a serious problem for minority groups. In this regard, Schuster (3:26l) notes that,
Blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented among
heterosexual IV drug users with AIDS. Blacks
account for 12 percent of the U.S. population
and 5l percent of the heterosexual IV drug
users with AIDS. While 6 percent of the popu-
lation are Hispanic, they are 30 percent of
the heterosexual IV drug users with AIDS.
The plight of urban minorities with respect to the...