Transmission of HIV in Belle Glade, Florida: lessons for other communities in the United States

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  08 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4836, pp. 193-197
DOI: 10.1126/science.3336781


The high cumulative incidence of AIDS and the large percentage of AIDS patients with no identified risks in Belle Glade, Florida, were evaluated through case interviews and neighborhood-based seroepidemiologic studies. It was found that of 93 AIDS patients reported between July 1982 and 1 August 1987, 34 could be directly linked to at least one other AIDS patient or to a person with AIDS-related complex by sexual contact, sharing of needles during intravenous drug abuse (or both), or perinatal exposure; of 877 randomly selected adults, 28 had antibodies to HIV; no person over age 60 and none of 138 children aged 2 to 10 years had antibodies to HIV; no clustering of infected persons within households occurred, except in sex partners; and HIV-seropositive adults were more likely than HIV-seronegative adults to be from Haiti, have a lower income, report sex with intravenous drug abusers, and have a history of previous treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. The presence of antibodies to five arboviruses prevalent in South Florida or the Caribbean did not correlate significantly with HIV infection. The high cumulative rate of AIDS in Belle Glade appears to be the result of HIV transmission through sexual contact and intravenous drug abuse; the evidence does not suggest transmission of HIV through insects.

Stay Connected to Science