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

R.C Stebbins, L. Feinstein, J.B. Ward, E. Cordoba, G.A. Noppert, A.E. Aiello
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,
more » ... an 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.
doi:10.17615/d518-nr54 fatcat:iber7rge6bbgvn6wyhlpzbgytu