Geospatial study identifies hotspots in deaths from HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Massachusetts

BOSTON (December 11, 2014) -- A new study from epidemiologists at Tufts University School of Medicine helps to identify communities with the greatest public health need in Massachusetts for resources relating to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. The study, published today in PLOS ONE, used geospatial techniques to identify hotspots for deaths related to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. The findings show large disparities in death rates exist across race and ethnicity in Massachusetts.

The HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C epidemics are challenging public health officials and clinicians in the United States. While HIV/AIDS mortality rates have decreased, hepatitis C infection rates have increased at a steep rate in younger populations. Co-infection is common among drug users. Public health officials are also increasingly concerned about long-standing and initially silent hepatitis C infections in baby boomers.

Studies of mortality frequently use only one cause of death, but these studies often miss the underlying cause of death. To get a fuller picture, the research team looked at the contributing or underlying causes of death, related to HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C, as documented on death certificates from 2002 to 2011 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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