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'Troubling' Rise in HIV Among Young Gay Men: CDC

New numbers show sharpest increase is among young black males

THURSDAY, June 26, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The latest data on HIV infection across 33 states finds new diagnoses jumping by 12 percent annually between 2001 and 2006 among young gay and bisexual men.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the rise is "especially concerning" for young black men aged 13 to 24 who have sex with men. For this group, the annual rate of new HIV diagnoses rose by 15 percent annually, compared to a 9 percent and an 8 percent annual rise among their white and Hispanic peers, respectively.

The findings were released Thursday in this week's issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Friday, June 27, is National HIV Testing Day across the United States.

The CDC researchers reported that, "during 2001-2006, an estimated 214,379 persons had HIV/AIDS diagnosed in the 33 states." Almost half (46 percent) of these new cases were diagnosed among men who have sex with men, and there was a noticeable decline in HIV transmission for the time frame in all categories except for this high-risk group, the report found.

Overall, gay and bisexual men comprised 63 percent of all cases of new infection among U.S. males, and almost two-thirds of new cases among men who have sex with men occurred in the 25-to 44-year-old age group, the CDC said.

The agency noted that certain risk factors, such as pre-existing infection with syphilis or gonorrhea, or the use of alcohol or illicit drugs (especially methamphetamine) can encourage HIV transmission among young gay and bisexual men. "Strengthened collaborations between STD, HIV, viral hepatitis and substance abuse programs should result in more effective HIV prevention efforts," the CDC noted in an editorial.

In related news, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Thursday announced what it called "the largest HIV testing initiative" in the city's history: a push over the next three years to have all residents of the Bronx aged 18 to 64 learn their HIV status.

In a prepared statement, city health officials noted, "Bronx residents account for nearly a fourth of New York City's HIV infections and a third of AIDS deaths each year."

More information

There's more on HIV/AIDS at the Foundation for AIDS Research.

SOURCES: June 27, 2008, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; June 27, 2008, news release, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
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