The war against HIV/AIDS is far from over, U.S. health officials with CDC said on Thursday, with gay and bisexual men in urban centers accounting for most new infections in the United States.
Nearly 29,000 new cases of HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, were attributed to gay and bisexual males in 2010, and 82 percent of those cases occurred in large cities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
“The HIV epidemic in the United States highlights inequities,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “One is that gay and bisexual men are over 40 times more likely to have HIV than heterosexuals, and urban areas of the United States have higher HIV prevalence than rural areas.”
However, this is a challenging group to reach with education and prevention strategies, he said.
In 2010, gay and bisexual males represented 62 percent of new HIV infections in large cities, 56 percent in smaller cities and 54 percent in non-urban areas, according to the study, published in the Nov. 30 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Nearly half of the new HIV infections reported among gay and bisexual men occurred in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.
In addition, four of the areas with the highest number of HIV infections among gay and bisexual men were in California: Los Angeles, Fresno, Modesto and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura.
The U.S. National HIV Strategy has a goal of reducing HIV infections by 25 percent, the CDC’s Mermin said. “That is a challenging but achievable goal. We won’t reach it if we don’t decrease HIV infections among young and old gay and bisexual men.”
People who are HIV-positive carry a psychological weight, in addition to the medical and financial burdens.
A positive health message about being HIV-free and healthy and active is essential to stem the problem.
The study authors said programs that could reduce the number of HIV infections in cities include HIV testing, better care and treatment of those already infected, and risk counseling.
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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner and Women’s Issues Examiner.
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