Friday, September 12, 2008

The Forgotten Epidemic--AIDS Ravages Minorities

THURSDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of new HIV infections among young gay or bisexual black men is significantly higher than new infections among whites and Hispanics of the same age, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday.

"The number of new HIV infections among young black men who have sex with men is alarming," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said during a new teleconference.

Among black males aged 13 to 29, the incidence of HIV infection was 1.6 times higher than that of whites and 2.3 times higher than for Hispanics, according to findings published in the Sept. 12 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Forty-eight percent of new infections among black men were among those aged 13 to 29, compared with 31 percent for whites and 21 percent for Hispanics. This finding highlights the need to reach men at an early age and teach them about HIV prevention, Fenton said.

"There were more new HIV infections in black men who have sex with men between the ages of 13 and 29 than any other group of men who have sex with men, regardless of race or age," Dr. Richard Wolitski, acting director of the CDC's division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, added during Thursday's teleconference.

The reasons why young black men are being infected with HIV at a relatively early age aren't clear. Some factors may include the stigma of homosexuality, lack of access to HIV prevention services, and an underestimation of personal risk, Wolitski said.

In addition, the prevalence of HIV in the black community makes it more likely for someone to become infected, the expert said. Another theory is that many young black gay and bisexual men choose older men as partners, making it more likely for them to become infected, he said.

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For all new U.S. cases of HIV in 2006, white men who have sex with men accounted for 46 percent of cases, followed by gay or bisexual black men, who accounted for 35 percent, and Hispanic gay and bisexual men, at 19 percent.

Women too, especially black women, are affected by HIV. "Compared to women of all races, black women bear the heaviest burden of HIV," Fenton said.

Among black women, the incidence of HIV was 14.7 times higher than for white women. Among Hispanic women, the HIV infection rate was 3.8 times higher than that for white women, according to the report.

Hispanics are disproportionately affected by HIV, Wolitski said. "Hispanics represent 18 percent of new HIV infections while representing 15 percent of the total U.S. population," he said. "Men make up 76 percent of new infections among Hispanics, the majority of whom were men who have sex with men."

In August, the CDC released new estimates of the number of HIV new cases in 2006, in the United States, which now total 56,300 and are significantly higher than the previous estimate of 40,000. "We learned that the HIV epidemic was worse than previously known," Fenton said.

These findings should renew our sense of urgency about HIV prevention, Fenton said. "To be able to end the HIV epidemic in the United States, it is absolutely essential that we reverse the years of increases of HIV incidence among gay and bisexual men," he said.

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Let's hear for Abstinance Only Education! Notice that the cohort with worst statistics is the 13-29 year old black males. Now where would the first part of that cohort be? Perhaps school? And they are being taught what? Garbage, that is what they are being taught.

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