HIV Infections Seen Highest Among Young Black Gay Men

John Lauerman, Bloomberg, September 11, 2008

HIV infections in the U.S. are highest among gay black men younger than 30, and more money is needed for prevention efforts targeting that group, government researchers said.

More than half of 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006 were in men who have sex with men, and the largest number for any group was in young, homosexual black men, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released today. They accounted for 12 percent of total cases.

The analysis takes a second look at research published last month showing the AIDS virus is spreading about 40 percent faster in the U.S. than the government had estimated for at least seven years. The CDC has designed two prevention programs specifically for black homosexual men, and other programs can be adapted, said Kevin Fenton, CDC’s director of AIDS prevention.

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The agency this year will begin to promote screening for the virus specifically among blacks, he said. Still, CDC’s data show that about four out of five gay men living in urban areas aren’t reached by prevention programs. Fenton said he will testify in congressional hearings next week on the need for more HIV prevention money.

Worldwide Infections

Research on the HIV epidemic has pointed to blacks and gay men as the twin centers of the disease’s spread. Blacks represented about 45 percent of new U.S. infections in 2006. Black men younger than 30 years old accounted for 6,760 of the new infections, the CDC said.

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Late Response

The CDC response is too late and insufficient for an epidemic of HIV in blacks that has grown unchecked for years, said Phill Wilson, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles- based Black AIDS Institute.

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