African Americans are contracting the HIV virus at a rate double than that of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s while the rate of infection for white Americans is virtually unchanging said a recent study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention released last Friday.

“Epidemiologists compared data from 1988 to 1994 with figures from 1999 to 2002 and found that infection rates among blacks doubled from 1.10 to 2.14 percent,” reports the AFP. HIV/AIDS prevention advocates as well as researchers attribute the increase to drug addiction, poverty and poor access to health care.

Interestingly, the infection rate was not highest among teens and young adults but rather among 40 to 49-year-olds; the infection rate among young people remained encouragingly low at 1.5 percent said CDC scientist Geraldine McQuillan at a press conference on Friday.

Although the infection rate among young people was reportedly low within this study, others show that the good news might be a fleeting comfort.

According to an article published on the AIDS Education Global Information System website it is the youth who have, in the past 10 years, begun to engage in much riskier sexual and drug practices. This suggests that a new generation of minority youth are much more likely to come into contact with sexual partners who do not practice safe sex and have been exposed to the HIV virus.

Health officials theorize that the numbers presented within the CDC study may in fact underestimate the actual HIV rates in the country because it doesn’t take into account the prison populations or the homeless.