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NYC Reports From Bangkok

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Presents New HIV/AIDS Data at International Conference in Thailand

October 2004

NYC Reports from Bangkok
At the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) presented new HIV/AIDS data showing that black New Yorkers -- particularly black men ages 40-54 -- are significantly more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS than other New Yorkers. DOHMH also presented on the status of pediatric AIDS in New York City, which has been decreasing both locally and nationally for the past several years.

High Prevalence and Late Diagnosis of HIV Among Black Men Aged 40-54 in New York City

Current data now show that one out of every 14 black men between the ages of 40 and 54 is living with HIV or AIDS, nearly seven times the rate of other New Yorkers. The only groups with higher rates of infection are gay and bisexual men, who are estimated to be ten times more likely to be living with HIV or AIDS than other New Yorkers; and injecting drug users, one out of every six of whom is estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. Overall, black men are nearly three times more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS than other New Yorkers.

Ellen W. Wiewel, M.P.H., an Epidemiologist at the Health Department and the paper's author, said, "We estimate that at least a quarter of New Yorkers with HIV don't know they are infected because they have never been tested. Our analysis found that, while gay and bisexual men in New York continue to be at highest risk of HIV/AIDS infection, middle-aged black men are also shouldering a disproportionate amount of illness. HIV testing early on -- and ensuring that partners know of the results -- is crucial for everyone who is sexually active or using injecting drugs."

Of black men ages 40-54 living with HIV/AIDS whose risk factor for infection was known, half were infected by injecting drugs and 28% were infected through sex with other men. More than one third of black men in this age group living with HIV/AIDS reside in Brooklyn, where the overall infection rate for the group is 1 in 18. The overall rate of HIV infection among black men in this age group remains highest in Manhattan, where 1 in 7 are living with HIV/AIDS.

Additionally, data indicate that middle-aged black men are more likely than other New Yorkers to be co-diagnosed with both HIV and AIDS. The progression to AIDS illnesses can take as many as ten years. This means that many black, middle-aged men may not know their HIV status, are not getting tested at an age where HIV can be detected in its early stages, and do not know they need treatment.

Perinatal Transmission of HIV/AIDS in New York City

DOHMH also presented New York City's latest data on pediatric HIV/AIDS and new findings that add to further evidence to support early testing and treatment. Rates of perinatal HIV/AIDS transmission were significantly lower in infants born to mothers receiving multi-drug HIV/AIDS treatment during pregnancy, delivery and at birth, as compared with mother/infant pairs that received single-drug treatment only at delivery and birth. The highest rates of infection were among infants receiving no treatment or those only receiving single-drug treatment during delivery and birth.

Perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS peaked in 1990, when 320 cases were reported. Because of the widespread use of perinatal medication since 1994, only 24 perinatally infected babies were born in New York City in 2001. New pediatric HIV/AIDS infections have steadily declined both nationally and locally in recent years. There have been approximately 3,800 diagnoses of children with HIV/AIDS in New York City since the beginning of the epidemic; nearly 1,400 of these children have died. The majority (98%) of these children were infected during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or through breastfeeding.

Kai-Lih Liu, Ph.D., a Health Department Epidemiologist, and co-author and presenter of the paper said, "While the decline in perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS is one of the success stories of the epidemic, it is still tragic to have to explain to a new mother that her child's illness could have been prevented had it been detected earlier. We can't emphasize enough the importance of early testing and treatment for women who are pregnant, or considering pregnancy."

Know Your HIV Status: A "Take Care New York" Priority

Knowing your HIV status is one of top ten priorities of Take Care New York -- the City's new comprehensive health policy. The City urges every New Yorker to know their HIV status, and is expanding HIV testing using new rapid technologies, while continuing to ensure that testing is confidential and voluntary. While HIV/AIDS deaths have declined greatly in the past ten years, the disease remains the fifth leading cause of death among all New Yorkers and the leading cause of death for New Yorkers ages 35-44. By 2008, the City aims to reduce the annual AIDS death rate by half.

Women who are pregnant or who are planning pregnancy should know their HIV status. Without medication, a mother can pass HIV to her baby. Treatment can improve both the mother's health and greatly reduce the chance that the baby will get infected.

DOHMH's 10 STD clinics, located in each of the five boroughs, provide free services, including STD diagnosis and treatment, confidential or anonymous HIV testing, and hepatitis immunizations on a walk-in basis regardless of immigration status. To obtain further information about treatment guidelines and other STD information, you can visit Further information is available by calling 311, visiting or from your medical provider.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.