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U.S. News

One in Five Gay and Bisexual Men in U.S. Cities Have HIV

September 24, 2010

A CDC study of men who have sex with men (MSM) in 21 major cities found nearly one in five are infected with HIV, and 44 percent did not know it.

CDC researchers tested 8,153 MSM participating in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System. Overall, 19 percent were HIV-positive.

The highest infection rate, 28 percent, was found among black MSM. Eighteen percent of Hispanic MSM were infected, as were 16 percent of white MSM.

Lower levels of income and education were associated with higher rates of HIV infection. Among other findings:

  • Among MSM with HIV, 59 percent of blacks were unaware of their infection, compared to 46 percent of Hispanics and 26 percent of whites.
  • MSM under age 30 had lower HIV prevalence than older men. However, 63 percent of HIV-positive MSM ages 18 to 29 were unaware of their infection, compared to 37 percent of HIV-positive MSM age 30 and older.
  • Among HIV-positive MSM younger than 30, 71 percent of blacks were unaware of their infection, compared to 63 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of whites.

"We can't allow HIV to continue its devastating toll among gay and bisexual men, and in particular, among young black men," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "We need to reinvigorate our response to preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men."

"The severity of the impact of HIV in the gay community is nothing new," said Carl Schmid of the non-profit AIDS Institute. "What has been missing is an appropriate response by our government, at the federal, state, and local levels, and the gay community itself."

CDC recommends that MSM be tested for HIV at least annually. Those at increased risk -- men with multiple or anonymous partners, and those who use drugs during sex -- should be tested every three to six months, the agency says. In the study, only 45 percent of the HIV-positive men unaware of their infection had tested in the previous year.

The study, "Prevalence and Awareness of HIV Infection Among Men Who Have Sex with Men -- 21 Cities, United States, 2008," was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2010;59(37):1201-1207). For more information from CDC about MSM health issues, visit

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
09.23.2010; Julie Steenhuysen

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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.
See Also
CDC: One in Five Gay Men HIV-Positive
More Statistics on Gay Men, HIV/AIDS and Other STDs in the U.S.

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