Need for Sustained HIV Prevention Among Men Who Have Sex with Men
In the United States, HIV-related illness and death historically have had a tremendous impact on men who have sex with men (MSM). Even though the toll of the epidemic among injection drug users (IDUs) and heterosexuals has increased during the last decade, MSM continue to account for the largest number of people reported with AIDS each year. In 1998 alone, 16,642 AIDS cases were reported among MSM, compared with 11,070 among IDUs and 6,735 among men and women who acquired HIV heterosexually.
Overall, the number of MSM of all races and ethnicities who are living with AIDS has increased steadily since 1992, partly as a result of the 1993 expanded AIDS case definition and, more recently, improved survival. (See chart below.)
Continuing Risk Among Young MSM
Abundant evidence shows a need to sustain prevention efforts for each generation of young gay and bisexual men. We cannot assume that the positive attitudinal and behavioral change seen among older men also applies to younger men. Recent data on HIV prevalence and risk behaviors suggest that young gay and bisexual men continue to place themselves at considerable risk for infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Need to Combat Other STDs
Studies among MSM who are treated in STD clinics have shown consistently high rates of HIV infection, ranging from nearly 4% in Seattle to a high of almost 36% in Atlanta. (See CDC's National HIV Prevalence Surveys, 1997 Summary, Table 1.) Scientists know that the likelihood of both acquiring and spreading HIV is 2-5 times greater in people with STDs, and that aggressively treating STDs in a community can help to reduce the rate of new HIV infections. Along with prompt attention to and treatment of STDs, efforts to reduce the behaviors that spread STDs are critical.
Prevention Services Must Reach Both Uninfected and Infected
Research has shown that high-risk behavior is continuing in some populations of MSM, including those who are infected with HIV. As the number of gay and bisexual men living with HIV increases, greater efforts must be made to reach them with behavioral interventions that can help them protect their own health and prevent transmission to others.
For information about national HIV prevention activities, see the following CDC fact sheets:
For More Information
CDC National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-AIDS
CDC National Prevention Information Network: 1-800-458-5231
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.