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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 50
Men of color continue at high risk for HIV, CDC says
New HIV infections down 19% overall
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Men of color continue at high risk for HIV, CDC says
New HIV infections down 19% overall

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

There's good news and bad news in the war on HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report released December 7.

The good news is that HIV infections have dropped 19% overall in the last ten years. The bad news is that some demographics actually show increases in HIV infection.

On the plus side, the annual number of HIV diagnoses in the United States declined 19% from 2005 to 2014. The most significant decreases were documented among heterosexuals (down 35%) and IV drug users (down 63%).

Among African-American women, HIV diagnoses declined 42% in the last decade and 25% since 2010.

Among white Gay and Bi men, new HIV diagnoses declined 18% over the last ten years.

But there's a problem: over that ten-year period, the number of new HIV cases for Gay and Bi men as a whole increased by about 6% - driven by significant increases among men of color.

Among Gay and Bi African-Americans, for example, HIV diagnoses jumped 22% over the decade, although the rate of increase slowed considerably in the most recent years, going down to only 1%.

Among Latino Gay and Bi men, the number of new HIV diagnoses went up 24% over the ten-year period and 13% since 2010.

To complicate the picture even more, infections among young African-American men (ages 13-24) went up an astonishing 87% over the ten-year period, but the number of diagnoses in that age group actually declined 2% in the last five years of the study.

According to the CDC, increases in HIV diagnoses are due to increases in new infections and not to improved HIV testing or reporting. HIV testing remained stable or actually increased among the groups reporting declines in diagnoses, the CDC said. Similarly, HIV testing remained stable among Latino Gay and Bi men, who reported increases in HIV infections during this period.

'Although we are encouraged by the recent slowing of the epidemic among black gay and bisexual men - especially young men - they continue to face a disproportionately high HIV burden, and we must address it,' said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

'Much more must be done to reduce new infections and to reverse the increases among Latino men. There is hope that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and other efforts are beginning to pay off, but we can't rest until we see equal gains for all races and risk groups.'

The CDC attributed the decline in new HIV diagnoses in the most recent five-year period to greater investments in 'high-impact' prevention campaigns.

'The recent five-year trends coincide with the launch of the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy and - now that the investment in high-impact prevention approaches has increased - offer promise for further progress,' said Eugene McCray, MD, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

'We have the tools to stop HIV right now. We urgently need to accelerate access to testing, treatment, and new biomedical prevention strategies so that everyone can protect themselves and their partners.'

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