Racial/Ethnic Disparities at the End of an HIV Epidemic: Persons Who Inject Drugs in New York City, 2011-2015

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To examine whether racial/ethnic disparities persist at the “end of the HIV epidemic” (prevalence of untreated HIV infection < 5%; HIV incidence < 0.5 per 100 person-years) among persons who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City.


We recruited 2404 PWID entering New York City substance use treatment in 2001 to 2005 and 2011 to 2015. We conducted a structured interview, and testing for HIV and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2; a biomarker for high sexual risk). We estimated incidence by using newly diagnosed cases of HIV. Disparity analyses compared HIV, untreated HIV, HIV-HSV-2 coinfection, HIV monoinfection, and estimated HIV incidence among Whites, African Americans, and Latinos.


By 2011 to 2015, Whites, African Americans, and Latino/as met both criteria of our operational “end-of-the-epidemic” definition. All comparisons that included HIV-HSV-2-coinfected persons had statistically significant higher rates of HIV among racial/ethnic minorities. No comparisons limited to HIV monoinfected persons were significant.


“End-of-the-epidemic” criteria were met among White, African American, and Latino/a PWID in New York City, but elimination of disparities may require a greater focus on PWID with high sexual risk.

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