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Gay teens vs. Straight teens: Whose more at risk for HIV?
Aug 13, 1998

WHAT ARE THE STATS ON GAY TEENAGERS UNDER THE AGE OF 21 CONTRACTING HIV? ARE THEY AT THE SAME RISK FOR HIV AS HETEROSEXUAL YOUNG MEN? IS THIS DETERMINED BY RACE, UPBRINGING OR SOCIAL FACTORS DO YOU THINK?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. In regard to teens (Gay and Straight) getting HIV:

Because HIV infection (without being diagnosed with AIDS) is not a reportable condition in many places (as of October 1998), we do not currently have a lot of data to look at the rate of recent HIV infections among various populations. Most data that is available looks at AIDS cases (which were infected with HIV an average of 10 years before).

In the United States, a recent report looked at preliminary data in the 25 states (out of 50 states) that had HIV reporting data available. According to this report, for the period January 1994 to June 1997, in persons age 13 and older who were diagnosed with HIV (but not yet having AIDS), of the 52,690 cases that were reported:

72% were male 28% were female

32% were men having sex with men 18% were injecting drug users 4% were men having sex with men who were also injecting drug users 18% were heterosexual 28% unreported risk or other risk

14% were in the age group 13-24 18% were in the age group 25-29 23% were in the age group 30-34 19% were in the age group 35-39 27% were age 40 and older.

34% were White 57% were Black 7% were Hispanic 2% were another race or not reported

You will note that Men Having Sex With Men still accounts for the majority of the cases, although there are a considerable number of cases transmitted through IV drug use and heterosexual contact. I do not know how many of these cases were Gay teens vs. Straight teens. You will also note that a considerable number of Blacks (African Americans) are being infected. There are many limitations to this data:

1) Because many states did not have HIV reporting, these figures may not be representative of the epidemic overall.

2) Many teens and young adults do not get tested, since they do not perceive themselves to be at risk. This can significantly lead to under-reporting of cases in the younger age groups shown above.

3) Because this data is preliminary, risk factors for many people have not been reported.

4) This data is only for the United States. These data may not be representative of other countries.

Now let me compare this data with AIDS statistics (for the same 25 states for the same time period). Remember, the cases of AIDS reported here became infected with HIV an average of 10 years before. According to this report, for the period January 1994 to June 1997, in persons age 13 and older who were diagnosed with AIDS, of the 72,905 cases that were reported:

83% were male 17% were female

44% were men having sex with men 20% were injecting drug users 4% were men having sex with men who were also injecting drug users 12% were heterosexual 20% unreported risk or other risk

3% were in the age group 13-24 11% were in the age group 25-29 22% were in the age group 30-34 23% were in the age group 35-39 41% were age 40 and older.

45% were White 45% were Black 8% were Hispanic 1% were another race or not reported

One must be very cautious in directly comparing this data, since HIV data is still preliminary. One thing that we can say is that, based on preliminary data in this report, the rate of new HIV cases is remaining relatively stable over time, but the number of new cases of AIDS is decreasing significantly (due to better treatments). Present prevention efforts are not reducing the rate of new infections, but prevention efforts may be preventing an increase in the rate of new HIV infections. Prevention efforts clearly need to target people of color, women, and Gay men (especially young Gay men).

Reference:

Diagnosis and Reporting of HIV and AIDS in States with Integrated HIV and AIDS Surveillance--United States, January 1994-June 1997 MMWR Vol. 47 #15 pages 309-314 April 24, 1998

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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