May 10, 2014 4:05 PM GMT
More and more, the face of HIV in Los Angeles and the United States is that of the young, black gay man. That trend has set off an exceedingly touchy debate among scientists, doctors, social workers, politicians, activists and gay men: Why?
Despite comprising only 13 percent of the U.S. population — only 9 percent in Los Angeles — African-Americans account for 44 percent of new HIV infection nationwide.
Starkly stated, black gay men are three times as likely to become infected as white gay men.
In L.A. County, "We're probably the gayest epidemic in the nation," says Dr. Douglas Frye, director of the HIV Epidemiology Program of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. He's referring to the fact that here, men who have sex with men (known as MSMs) make up roughly 97 percent of the male HIV epidemic, with needle use far behind as a cause.