Racial and ethnic differences in the seroprevalence of 6 infectious diseases in the United States: data from NHANES III, 1988-1994

Am J Public Health. 2004 Nov;94(11):1952-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.11.1952.


Objectives: We examined racial/ethnic differences in the seroprevalence of selected infectious agents in analyses stratified according to risk categories to identify patterns and to determine whether demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral characteristics explain these differences.

Methods: We analyzed data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, comparing differences among groups in regard to the prevalence of infection with hepatitis A, B, and C viruses, Toxoplasma gondii, Helicobacter pylori, and herpes simplex virus type 2.

Results: Racial/ethnic differences were greater among those in the low-risk category. In the case of most infectious agents, odds associated with race/ethnicity were almost 2 times greater in that category than in the high-risk category.

Conclusions: Stratification and adjustment for socioeconomic factors reduced or eliminated racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence of infection in the high-risk but not the low-risk group, wherein race/ethnicity remained significant and might have been a surrogate for unmeasured risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases / ethnology*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections / ethnology
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Hepatitis A / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis A / ethnology
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / ethnology
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / ethnology
  • Herpes Simplex / epidemiology
  • Herpes Simplex / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Prevalence
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Toxoplasmosis / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology