The rate of HIV infections among young men who have sex with men, age 13 to 29, increased by 34 percent in the United States from 2006 to 2009, and are the only group where the rate of infection is increasing, according to a report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control. The number of new infections across those same years was about 50,000 annually and while the rate of infection was stable, the rate of infection for young gay and bisexual black men increased by 48 percent across the same time period.
Men who have sex with men only make up between 2 and 5 percent of the country; however, they make up about 61 percent (29,300) of new infections. Young gay and bisexual males, age 13 to 29, were most heavily affected, representing more than a quarter of all new infections.
“More than 30 years into the HIV epidemic, about 50,000 people in this country still become infected each year. Not only do men who have sex with men continue to account for most new infections, young gay and bisexual men are the only group in which infections are increasing, and this increase is particularly concerning among young African American MSM ,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden in a press release. “HIV infections can be prevented. By getting tested, reducing risky behaviors, and getting treatment, people can protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The largest number of new infections in 2009 was among white MSM (11,400), followed by black MSM (10,800). Hispanic MSM (6,000) and black women (5,400) were also affected.
“We are deeply concerned by the alarming rise in new HIV infections in young, black gay and bisexual men and the continued impact of HIV among young gay and bisexual men of all races,” said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in a press release. “We cannot allow the health of a new generation of gay men to be lost to a preventable disease. It’s time to renew the focus on HIV among gay men and confront the homophobia and stigma that all too often accompany this disease.”
While blacks represent about 14 percent of the total U.S. population, they accounted for more than 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. The HIV infection rate among Hispanics was nearly three times as high as it was for whites in 2009.
“HIV remains one of the most glaring health disparities in this country,” said Fenton in the press release. “While we all have individual responsibility to protect ourselves from HIV infection, the research clearly shows that individual risk behavior alone doesn’t account for the significant racial disparities in HIV. It is essential to understand the underlying factors that contribute to these disparities, such as poverty, discrimination and lack of access to health care.”
The full report can be accessed by going to cdc.gov/hiv.