Although new cases of HIV declined in 2010, Washtenaw County Public Health officials reported recently that those diagnosed were "glaringly young."
Washtenaw epidemiologist Laura Bauman said a new study shows the 20 HIV cases reported in 2010 represent a continued decline from the 26 and 30 cases reported in 2009 and 2008, respectively. However, Bauman added that 70 percent of those patients were under age 30.
The study also reports that blacks and men who have sex with men (MSM) comprised 60 percent and 85 percent of the 2010 cases, respectively.
Loveluck theorizes that young people view HIV/AIDS as a manageable condition versus the death sentence it was more than a decade ago, and that those most adversely affected, young black MSM, are the least likely to be insured or to have access to health services.
African-American MSM "don't feel comfortable ... about their sexuality because it is something they can't [be] as open about in their particular community," said Loveluck.
To fight the stigma that often works against HIV prevention and testing, HARC has partnered with the Michigan Department of Community Health on the "Status Sexy" campaign, an outreach that includes educational presentations and distribution of safe sex information. However, HARC next year could see a reduction in the federal funds that comprise about 15 percent of its annual budget.