Many low-income urban areas across the United States have epidemics of HIV, with 2.1 percent of heterosexuals in poverty-stricken urban areas infected with the incurable AIDS virus, U.S. scientists said yesterday.


In a study of rates of HIV across the United States, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that poverty is the single most important factor linked to HIV infection among inner-city heterosexuals.


“In this country, HIV clearly strikes the economically disadvantaged in a devastating way,” said CDC HIV/AIDS expert Kevin Fenton, whose findings were presented at an international conference on AIDS in Vienna.


He said the research showed there was “a widespread HIV epidemic in America’s inner cities.”


More than 1.1 million people in the United States are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, according to the CDC, and there are around 56,000 new infections there every year.

Many studies have shown that blacks, gay and bisexual men and Hispanics are the most affected groups, and Fenton said this study found heterosexuals in the poorest city neighborhoods are also hit hard. The researchers found no differences in HIV prevalence by race or ethnicity in heterosexuals in poor areas.