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Wisconsin's Gay, Bisexual African Americans Still Hardest Hit by HIV

May 3, 2013

HIV incidence among heterosexuals and injection drug users declined by 60 percent from 2003 to 2012 in Wisconsin, but the rate of new infections among gay and bisexual men stayed approximately the same. Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that 70 percent of Wisconsin's 241 new cases in 2012 occurred among gay and bisexual men, and close to half of all new HIV diagnoses (48 percent) were in Milwaukee, home to 25 percent of the state's population. Blacks comprised the highest number of new cases (42 percent), followed by whites (40 percent), Hispanics (14 percent), and Asian and multiracial individuals (2 percent each).

Approximately 25 percent of gay and bisexual African-American men in Wisconsin were HIV-infected, compared to 3 percent of white and 7 percent of Hispanic gay and bisexual men. HIV cases were concentrated among men under 29, especially among African-American men, where the median age of diagnosis was 26. Among white and Hispanic gay and bisexual men, the median age at diagnosis was 32. African-American women diagnosed with HIV had a median age of 38, compared to a median age of 42 for white women.

Mike Gifford, president and chief executive officer of AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), stated that people under 25 account for 24 percent of new cases. Current efforts aim to expand HIV testing and link people diagnosed with HIV with treatment as soon as possible. According to CDC, close to 20 percent of people with HIV are unaware of their status, and they are responsible for most of the new infections. ARCW provides primary medical care and support services to many of the state's 6,549 HIV-infected residents. The high incidence of STDs in Milwaukee makes fighting HIV more difficult, since CDC has identified a "strong link" between occurrence of STDs and HIV.

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Excerpted from:
Wisconsin Gazette
05.02.2013; Louis Weisberg




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