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One in Five Gay Men Has HIV

One in Five Gay Men Has HIV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released data from a study that found almost one in five gay men (19%) in 21 major cities are infected with HIV and nearly half (44%) are unaware of their infection.

"This alarming new data provides further evidence that prevention efforts for gay men have not been adequate to meet the growing epidemic and should be dramatically scaled up if we are going to prevent HIV infections in our country," says Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of AIDS Institute. "The severity of the impact of HIV in the gay community is nothing new. What has been missing is an appropriate response by our government -- at the federal, state, and local levels -- and the gay community itself."

The Obama administration released its National HIV/AIDS Strategy this year, recognizing 53% of all HIV infections in the United States are among gay and bisexual men. The strategy says that "the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men." It also recommends that "given the starkness and the enduring nature of the disparate impact on gay and bisexual men, it is important to significantly reprioritize resources and attention to this community."

Despite the long history of HIV infection among gay men, there still are only a handful of approved behavioral interventions for men who have sex with men and even fewer targeted for a specific race or ethnicity. The CDC, by its own admission, experts point out, has indicated its prevention expenditures do not match the level needed for gay men compared to other populations. Further, a resource allocation model developed by the CDC concludes that if the level of incidence in the United States is to decrease, more resources need to be focused on gay men and other MSM.

Additionally, the study found:

> While MSM of all races and ethnicities were severely affected, black MSM were particularly impacted (28% were infected, compared to 18% of Hispanic MSM and 16% of white MSM).

> Black MSM were less likely than others to be aware of their HIV infection (59% unaware versus 46% for Hispanic MSM and 26% for white MSM).

> Young MSM -- especially young MSM of color -- were far less likely than older men to realize they were HIV-infected. Among those under age 30 who were infected, nearly two thirds (63%) were unaware of their HIV status.

“With September 27 being National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we hope it will serve as a reminder of the severe toll HIV has had and continues to have on the gay community,” says Michael Ruppal, executive director of AIDS Institute. “We also hope it will remind governments at all levels to recommit to investing greater resources and attention to gay men. The study results, which are from the CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system, were released in the September 24 edition of the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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