May 31, 2013
In spite of increased knowledge about prevention and improvements in treatment, too many Delaware residents -- especially young black men who have sex with men (MSM) -- have become infected with HIV that has progressed to AIDS. CDC's National HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report revealed that Delaware ranked eighth in new HIV cases and seventh in AIDS cases in the United States. The 2012 Delaware HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report stated that HIV incidence among MSM began to increase in 1999; MSM now is the most important risk factor for HIV in Delaware. Delaware Health and Human Services noted that black men comprised 62 percent of HIV-infected Delaware residents. HIV incidence was especially high in Wilmington; although only 14 percent of New Castle County's population lived in Wilmington, 42 percent of HIV-infected people resided in the city.
Joe Scarborough, patient advocate for the Delaware AIDS Consortium, stated that young MSM have lost a sense of urgency about protecting themselves from HIV because of improved treatment. Renee Beaman, executive director of the faith-based initiative Beautiful Gate Outreach, noted that many churches "don't know how to talk about sex and homosexuality" and believed that HIV was a "gay, white disease," when it was really an equal opportunity virus. Beautiful Gate provides free HIV rapid testing for approximately 1,500 clients annually and assists with education, food, housing, and care. Darcy Brasure, director of volunteer services for AIDS Delaware, reported that many people were reluctant to have HIV testing because state law does not allow anonymity.
Delaware HIV incidence attributed to injection drug use dropped from 49 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in 1993 to 6 percent in 2011. Brasure attributed the sharp decline to New Castle County's free needle exchange program. Improved prenatal care prevented HIV transmission for all Delaware babies born to HIV-infected mothers in 2011.