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U.S. News

Illinois: Black Prides Hold Historic HIV Forum

July 12, 2010

HIV activists meeting in Chicago recently heard some good news in a generally discouraging portrait of the epidemic among black men who have sex with men (MSM). Participants at a June 30 conference sponsored by the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus presented survey data indicating many black MSM "unaware of their HIV infection had acquired their infection in the past year and were engaged in HIV testing and medical care at similar rates as other MSM."

In addition, certain high-risk behaviors were no more common among black MSM than other groups of MSM, according to a July 2009 survey from the Chicago Department of Public Health.


On the other hand, epidemiological data from the survey "didn't tell us anything we didn't already know," said Lora Branch, director of administration for the Chicago Department of Public Health. Black MSM were twice as likely as white and Latino peers to have HIV. Some 50 percent of black MSM surveyed were not aware of their HIV infection status at the time of the survey.

One way to increase testing would be change the federal recommendation for high-risk groups from once per year to twice per year, said Beau Gratzer, COO of Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center.

Some panelists challenged the perception that black men on the "down-low" -- MSM who also have sex with unwitting female partners -- significantly contribute to HIV prevalence among black women. "DL is not the preponderance of black gay men," Branch said.

Gratzer noted that, contrary to some stereotypes, 60 percent to 70 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted in a relationship where partners are nominally monogamous and condoms are no longer being used.

Back to other news for July 2010

Adapted from:
Windy City Times (Chicago)
07.07.2010; Mason Harrison

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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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