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National News

AIDS Study Finds Many Unaware They Have Virus

July 8, 2002

The vast majority of young US gay and bisexual men in a new study who were found to have HIV were unaware of their infection, according to a CDC report presented yesterday at the 14th International AIDS Conference. The study interviewed 5,719 gay and bisexual men in Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Seattle. Tests found that 573 men had HIV. Of those, 440, or 77 percent, had said they were unaware they were infected. Among those found to have HIV, 90 percent of blacks, 70 percent of Hispanics and 60 percent of whites said that they did not know they were infected.

"The study shows that the very men who are at greatest risk of HIV infection are those who are least likely to think they are at risk," said Phill Wilson, executive director of the African-American AIDS Policy and Training Institutes in Los Angeles. Most of the infected men perceived themselves to be at low risk of infection, despite engaging in frequent high-risk sex, said Duncan MacKellar, a CDC epidemiologist.

Overall, among the 25 states that have monitored HIV the longest, the CDC found that 55 percent of new infections during 1994-2000 were among blacks. In 2000, blacks accounted for 43 percent of AIDS cases; whites, 34 percent; Hispanics, 21 percent.

An overview of the US epidemic presented by Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, an AIDS official with the CDC, found:

  • New HIV infections remained stable -- at an estimated 40,000 Americans annually -- for a total of 900,000 living with HIV/AIDS, an increase of 50,000 since 1998.

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  • Gay men accounted for 43 percent of new infections; infections through heterosexual sex, 27 percent; intravenous drug users, 23 percent.

  • Black women accounted for nearly half of infections through heterosexual sex; black males, 25 percent.

CDC interviews with people recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS show:

  • 70 percent were sexually active within the previous year.

  • 57 percent of women with steady male partners said they used condoms.

  • 75 percent of heterosexual men with more than one partner reported condom use.

  • About two-thirds of gay men reported condom use with a steady partner, or with more than one partner.

Valdiserri renewed the CDC's pledge to reduce by 50 percent the number of new infections in five years, saying, "We can't sit back and wait for a vaccine."

Back to other CDC news for July 8, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
New York Times
07.08.02; Lawrence K. Altman



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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