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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 07
CDC: Overall HIV rates down, but rising for Gay men 25-34
Section One
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CDC: Overall HIV rates down, but rising for Gay men 25-34

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Overall rates of HIV infection in the US are down, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, but they are on the rise for Gay men aged 25-34.

The report, presented on February 14 at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, includes data for the years 2008 through 2014.

According to CDC data, the incidence of HIV infections declined 18% over the seven-year period, from about 45,700 to 37,600 cases per year.

The CDC attributes the decrease to HIV-positive people being on medication and becoming undetectable, plus the fact that individuals at high risk of HIV infection are now taking PrEP medication to prevent acquiring the virus. PrEP was approved for use in 2012.

The CDC noted that there had been a drop in infections among intravenous drug users, and a 36% drop in heterosexual people becoming infected.

However, while the overall infection rate has come down, Gay and Bi men remain the most at-risk group. They accounted for 67% of new infections in 2014. Certain groups within this larger community remain at particular risk.

o Annual infections among Gay men aged 25-34 increased by 35% (from 7,200 to 9,700). (On the other hand, infection rates among Gay and Bi men aged 35-44 dropped by 25%, and by 18% among men under 24.)

o Infections among Latino Gay and Bi males increased by 20% (from 6,100 to 7,300).

o Infection rates among black Gay and Bi men remained stable at around 10,100 per year.

o Southern states bear the greatest burden of HIV, accounting for 50% of new infections in 2014.

'Disparities among MSM [men who have sex with men] need to be addressed to reduce incidence,' the CDC's Sonia Singh told the conference. 'Black MSM continue to have the highest incidence, and the incidence is increasing among Hispanic and Latinos as well as 25-to-34-year-olds.

'Tailoring testing, prevention, and treatment to these risk groups is needed to reduce HIV transmission.'

According to Huffington Post writer David Holtgrave of Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, 'The health disparities, especially for Gay and Bisexual men of color and Gay and Bisexual men in young adulthood, are clearly unacceptable and must be addressed with culturally relevant, evidence-based, comprehensive wellness services that address HIV and health in a holistic manner.

'The same is true for the disparities seen in the Southern US; this unequal geographic impact of the epidemic, which is mirrored by the burden of other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, has been known for far too long for such disparities to continue to exist.'

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