Social Determinants of Health

This post covers a KEY ISSUE: this topic could impact the future of HIV/AIDS policy.

An emerging topic in public health promotion is the concept of “social determinants of health.” This concept focuses on the social, economic, and environmental factors that either contribute to an individual’s risks of acquiring a disease or incurring poor health—or, conversely, protect an individual from those risks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have defined social determinants of health as: socioeconomic status; transportation; housing; access to services; discrimination by social grouping (e.g., race, gender, class); and social or environmental stressors. Social determinants of health can affect an individual’s probability of acquiring an infectious disease, such as HIV, through influences on behavior, limited access to preventive measures, and limited access to healthcare providers or testing sites. There is no official policy on social determinants of health, but the CDC has held a recent consultation on the topic.