Moderation effect of community health on the relationship between racial/ethnic residential segregation and HIV viral suppression in South Carolina: A county-level longitudinal study from 2013 to 2018

Fanghui Shi, Jiajia Zhang, Xueying Yang, Xiaowen Sun, Zhenlong Li, Chengbo Zeng, Huan Ning, Sharon Weissman, Bankole Olatosi, Xiaoming Li

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2 Scopus citations


Background: Viral suppression is the ultimate goal of the HIV treatment cascade and a primary endpoint of antiretroviral therapy. Empirical evidence found racial/ethnic disparities in viral suppression among people living with HIV (PWH), but the evidence of the relationship between racial/ethnic residential segregation and place-based viral suppression is scarce. Further exploring potential structural moderators in this relationship has substantial implications for healthcare policymaking and resource allocation. The current study aimed to investigate the spatial-temporal disparities in the HIV viral suppression rate across 46 counties in South Carolina from 2013 to 2018. We also examined the impact of racial/ethnic residential segregation and the moderation effect of community health, one measurement of community engagement and volunteerism. Methods: The proportion of PWH who achieved viral suppression for each county and calendar year was calculated using de-identified electronic medical records. The isolation index was calculated and used to measure racial/ethnic residential segregation. The community health index and other county-level factors were directly extracted from multiple publicly available datasets. We used geospatial mapping to explore the spatial-temporal variations of HIV viral suppression rates. Hierarchical quasi-binominal regression models were used to examine the impacts of racial/ethnic residential segregation on county-level viral suppression rate by the extent of community health. Results: From 2013 to 2018, the average viral suppression rate across 46 counties in SC increased from 64.3% to 65.4%. Regression results revealed that counties with high racial/ethnic residential segregation were more likely to have a low viral suppression rate (β = −0.56, 95% CI: −0.75 to −0.37). In counties with high levels of community health, the impact of racial/ethnic residential segregation on viral suppression rate decreased as compared with those with low levels of community health (β = 5.50, 95% CI: 0.95–10.05). Conclusions: Racial/ethnic residential segregation acts as a structural barrier to placed-based viral suppression rates and compromises the goal of the HIV treatment cascade. Concentrated and sustained county-level interventions aiming to improve community health can be practical approaches to promote health equity in HIV treatment and care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1013967
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Jan 9 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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