The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a distressing new report about the rate of HIV infections for black and Latino gay and bi men.
Fifty percent of black men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, according to findings presented Tuesday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.
In addition, one in four Latino MSM and one in 11 white MSM will also contract the virus in their lifetime.
Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said these new statistics are “a call to action.”
"As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are, they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action,” he said. “The prevention and care strategies we have at our disposal today provide a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and disparities in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now.”
The study, which the CDC called “the first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis for several key populations at risk and in every state,” analyzed data from 2009 to 2013 of HIV and mortality rates among different risk groups across the country.
This data shows that gay and bisexual men remain the most at-risk demographic for HIV infection. Across the board, one in six will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.
African-Americans continue to be the most at-risk racial group — one in 20 men and one in 48 women will have HIV in their lifetime.
“These estimates are a sobering reminder that gay and bisexual men face an unacceptably high risk for HIV — and of the urgent need for action,” added Eugene McCray, the director of the center’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “If we work to ensure that every American has access to the prevention tools we know work, we can avoid the outcomes projected in this study.”
The CDC lists HIV testing, treatment for those living with HIV, condoms, and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), the daily dosage of a pill that has been shown to be up to 99 percent effective in preventing the virus, as tools in its High Impact Prevention plan. Plus' sister magazine, The Advocate tackled this in their series #6in10Men, which cites previous CDC data, outlines how tactics like access to care, community support, media coverage, and backing of movements like Black Lives Matter can help fight HIV in at-risk communities.
And previous Plus reporting looked at how HIV and depression are killing black gay men, why African-Americans in general are more affected by HIV, how black gay and bi men are fighting back, and what's really behind the high rates of HIV among black men (it's not what you think).
Read the full CDC report here.