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:
"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 www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/.