2. Triple Whammy—HIV, Mental Disorders, African Americans
Evolving Demographics of US Society
One important component to understanding the issues faced by HIV-positive African Americans with mental disorders and the communities in which they live is to appreciate the ever-evolving demographic makeup of US society, which is becoming increasingly less white and increasingly more racially and ethnically diverse. As in the data and reports of the US Census Bureau, the terms “race” and “ethnicity” do not have any biological or genetic meaning. Rather, they are used as categories to classify the different population groups among the US population that are distinct from each other in terms of such characteristics as culture, national origin, language, customs. [OMB Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, Revisions, 1997]
Data from the 2010 US Census show that, although people who described themselves as being of only non-Hispanic white race remain the largest racial/ethnic group, that population is also growing more slowly than any of the other groups.[Census Overview-2010] During the decade from 2000 to 2010, the racial/ethnic groups that have experienced the greatest growth have been the Hispanic and Asian populations, in part due to relatively higher immigration levels. African Americans comprised the second-largest racial group in 2010, but their growth rate in 2010 was the second-slowest, following whites.
In 2010, members of minority groups comprised more than half of the population in four states (California, Texas, Hawaii, and New Mexico) and the District of Columbia. Only four states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia) had substantial non-Hispanic white majorities. The minority of populations of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Nevada were approaching 50%.
HIV-infected persons are disproportionately represented in African American and Hispanic communities. This has significant implications for healthcare service access and utilization in those communities.