Julie Steenhuysen for Reuters (September 23, 2010)
Nearly one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them do not know it, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.
Young men, and especially young black men, are least likely to know if they are infected with HIV, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers at the CDC studied 8,153 men who have sex with men in 21 U.S. cities. The men were taking part in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, which looked at prevalence and awareness of HIV.
Overall, they found that 19 percent of gay men are infected with HIV.
The study found that 28 percent of gay black men infected with HIV, compared with 18 percent of Hispanic men and 16 percent of white men.
Black men in the study were also least likely to be aware of their infection, with 59 percent unaware of their infection compared with 46 percent of Hispanic men and 26 percent of white men.
Age also plays a role. Among 18 to 29-year-old men, 63 percent did not know they were infected with HIV, compared with 37 percent of men aged 30 and older, the team reported in the CDC's weekly report on death and disease.
"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," said Carl Schmid of the nonprofit 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," he said in a statement.
Prevalence and Awareness of HIV Infection Among Men Who Have Sex With Men --- 21 Cities, United States, 2008
A Smith, MPH, I Miles, ScD, B Le, MD, T Finlayson, PhD, A Oster, MD, E DiNenno, PhD, Div of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC.
MMWR September 24, 2010 / 59(37);1201-1207
Link to CDC’s MMWR article