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New HIV Infections Increasing in Gay and African-American Communities

By L.K. Regan

Last month, RealJock reported that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had radically increased its estimate of annual HIV infections in the U.S., to roughly 55,000 from a prior estimate of 40,000. Following that study, the CDC conducted further analysis of its statistics. The results, released this week, have given a more complete picture of HIV infection at the current moment—and indicate that there are increasing infections in the gay and African-American communities.

The CDC's statistics come from 2006, the most recent year for which complete data have been collected. The initial August report indicated that 73 percent of new infections were in men, 45 percent were among African Americans, and 53 percent were in men who have sex with men (MSM). The more recent update, published September 16th, indicates that, of the infections among males (so, within the 73 percent of new infections), 72 percent were men who have sex with men (MSM). Of that 72 percent, 46 percent were white, 35 percent were African American, and 19 percent were Hispanic. That represents a substantial risk for African Americans, even though they are infected in lower absolute numbers than whites. In fact, when one leaves out the questions of gender and sexuality and looks at new infections in general, an astounding 46 percent of new infections occurred among blacks, 36 percent among whites, and 18 percent among Hispanics. African Americans are only a little more than 13 percent of the population in general, so their exceedingly high representation among new infections is alarming, to say the least.

Despite aggressive prevention measures in the gay community, MSM are still at the greatest risk overall. MSM account for 72 percent of new infections among males—81 percent of new infections among whites, 63 percent among blacks, and 72 percent among Hispanics. Among these groups, there are also age differences in rates of infection. African-American MSM are much more likely to become infected between the ages of 13 and 29 than are their white and Hispanic counterparts—roughly twice as likely, in fact. By contrast, white MSM were most likely to become infected in their thirties or forties (4,670 infections from 30 to 39, and 3,740 from 40 to 49). Finally, Hispanics were most likely to become infected in their 20s or 30s.

What to make of this dizzying sea of statistics? As the CDC's report concludes, "The new analysis underscores the severe impact of HIV among gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities, African Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos. It also shows us that, within these groups, the impact is most severe among young black gay and bisexual men, white gay and bisexual men in their 30s and 40s, and black women."

If you are in any of those demographics, you may want to be redouble your prevention measures, and speak to your friends about theirs.