September 27, 2013
This is the sixth annual National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day -- to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States. Today, we take time to focus on the toll that HIV continues to take on our society and, in particular, on the health of gay and bisexual men.
Gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities are still at the center of the HIV epidemic in the United States. Just 2% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections in 2010 and 52% of people living with HIV infection in the United States in 2009. From 2008 to 2010, the estimated number of new HIV infections rose 12% among MSM overall and 22% among young MSM (aged 13 to 24 years); black MSM accounted for more than half of infections among young MSM in 2010. In fact, young black MSM now account for more new infections than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, or sex.
CDC wants to reduce these numbers. We are working hand-in-hand with our many partners in communities across the country, and at the state and the national levels. In 2012, CDC tailored funding for prevention efforts by providing $55 million over 5 years (2012 through 2017) to support community-led HIV prevention for young gay and bisexual men and transgender people of color. CDC supports health departments to implement HIV testing programs in clinical and community settings, and behavioral interventions for gay and bisexual men at highest risk. In addition, CDC is funding innovative testing efforts such as the MSM Testing Initiative and HIV testing in pharmacies to ensure more gay and bisexual men get tested.
Basic prevention tools are still and will always be the first step and most effective if used. For sexually active gay and bisexual men who are HIV-negative, that means getting tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections at least once a year and using condoms correctly and consistently. For sexually active gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV, that means using condoms correctly and consistently and being on effective antiretroviral therapy to stay healthy and reduce the risk of spreading HIV to partners.
New prevention strategies are being researched every day. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for highest-risk gay and bisexual men is now available. CDC has released interim guidance on the use of PrEP. CDC's newest testing strategy, Testing Together, gives gay couples the opportunity to learn their HIV status together and develop a customized HIV prevention and care plan. CDC also supports REASONS/RAZONES, a recently launched campaign that promotes HIV testing among Latino gay and bisexual men as well as Testing Makes Us Stronger, an HIV testing campaign for Black gay and bisexual men.
We must reach all people at risk, especially young black MSM, with these proven HIV education, testing, and prevention strategies. Today, many young MSM don't realize HIV remains common, serious, and deadly. They may underestimate their personal risk or minimize the difficulty of managing a lifelong chronic disease.
National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a reminder that we need to continue to take action in communities where gay and bisexual men live, work, play, and worship to ensure we make a meaningful impact on this epidemic. We invite you to learn more about National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and resources for action at www.cdc.gov/Features/NGMHAAD/.
Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., is the director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.