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Persistent socioeconomic and racial and ethnic disparities in pathogen burden in the United States, 1999–2014

  • R. C. Stebbins (a1), G. A. Noppert (a2), A. E. Aiello (a1) (a2), E. Cordoba (a1), J. B. Ward (a1) (a3) and L. Feinstein (a1) (a3)...

Abstract

The disproportionate burden of prevalent, persistent pathogens among disadvantaged groups may contribute to socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in long-term health. We assessed if the social patterning of pathogen burden changed over 16 years in a U.S.-representative sample. Data came from 17 660 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants. Pathogen burden was quantified by summing the number of positive serologies for cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus-1, HSV-2, human papillomavirus and Toxoplasma gondii and dividing by the number of pathogens tested, giving a percent-seropositive for each participant. We examined sex- and age-adjusted mean pathogen burdens from 1999–2014, stratified by race/ethnicity and SES (poverty-to-income ratio (PIR); educational attainment). Those with a PIR < 1.3 had a mean pathogen burden 1.4–1.8 times those with a PIR > 3.5, with no change over time. Educational disparities were even greater and showed some evidence of increasing over time, with the mean pathogen burden among those with less than a high school education approximately twice that of those who completed more than high school. Non-Hispanic Black, Mexican American and other Hispanic participants had a mean pathogen burden 1.3–1.9 times non-Hispanic Whites. We demonstrate that socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in pathogen burden have persisted across 16 years, with little evidence that the gap is closing.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: R. C. Stebbins, E-mail: rebecca7@email.unc.edu

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Persistent socioeconomic and racial and ethnic disparities in pathogen burden in the United States, 1999–2014

  • R. C. Stebbins (a1), G. A. Noppert (a2), A. E. Aiello (a1) (a2), E. Cordoba (a1), J. B. Ward (a1) (a3) and L. Feinstein (a1) (a3)...

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