The Link Between Diabetes & HIV

African American woman drinking waterAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million people are living in the United States with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and African Americans account for the majority of new HIV cases. In fact, 45 percent of HIV cases in 2015 were among African Americans. Moreover, HIV is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes – a condition also affecting African Americans at disproportionate rates.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by elevated blood glucose—also called blood sugar, levels due to problems in insulin secretion, insulin action or both. Insulin is the hormone that helps move glucose into your cells to be used as energy.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. When you have insulin resistance, your body may be making plenty of insulin, but the insulin is unable to do its job properly. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. Overtime, as insulin resistance progresses insulin production gradually decreases, eventually reaching a level of deficiency. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk

If you are over 45 years of age, have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, and aren’t physically active you are at risk for diabetes. People whose family background is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Having HIV is also a risk factor for diabetes.