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New-Infection Rate Soars in New York City

New-Infection Rate Soars in New York City

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New cases of HIV among gay men younger than 30 increased by 33% during the past six years in New York City, from 374 in 2001 to 499 in 2006, according to a report released in September by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Gay males between 13 and 19 have also seen an increase in HIV rates--from 41 new cases six years ago to 87 in 2006. The majority of new cases were among black and Latino gay men; more than 90% of gay men under 20 diagnosed with HIV were from either group, according to the report. Furthermore, every borough except Staten Island saw an increase in infection rates. The report from the health department did not offer explanations for why rates among gay men under 30 or teens between the ages of 13 and 19 have increased. But Donna Futterman, director of the adolescent AIDS program at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, says minority teens may feel they have to hide their sexual orientation. 'The pressure of covering up,' Futterman says, 'means you put yourself in riskier situations than if you could go on a date and ask out who you like.' Health commissioner Thomas Frieden has urged young men to reduce their number of sexual partners and to protect themselves and their partners by using condoms consistently. He says the young men of this generation are growing up without having seen their friends die of AIDS, which may be giving them a false 'impression that HIV is not such a terrible infection.'

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