HIV Infection Rates Continue to Rise Among MSM and Communities of Color

Figure 1: Estimated new HIV Infections in the United States, 2010, for the Most-Affected Sub-Populations.
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Last week the CDC released its latest figures on HIV/AIDS infection rates within the United States, and a few things were made clear.

The good news is that overall, new HIV infections on the whole have not increased. Since the mid 90s, the annual domestic infection rate has held steady around 50,000 people, and the latest numbers estimate 47,500 were newly infected with HIV in 2010. The CDC estimates that these rates have been stabilized in part because of national and local HIV prevention and education efforts, which may have prevented over 350,000 new infections across the country.

The more complicated news is that the CDC's surveillance data clearly shows that some subpopulations continue to be much more affected by the pandemic than others.

For one, men who have sex with men continue to be infected at escalating rates. White MSM, black MSM, and Hispanic MSM accounted for 28,500 infections in 2010, accounting for nearly two-thirds (63%) of those infected. What's more, HIV infections among MSM youth ages 13-24 have increased since 2008, up from 7,200 in 2008 to 8,800 in 2010.

Across racial and ethnic lines, African-Americans continue to be infected at escalating rates. The CDC reports, "The overall HIV infection rate among blacks was almost eight times higher than that of whites." Concurrently, those identified as Hispanics have an infection rate three times that of whites, the latter of which account for 31% of all new infections per year.

Finally, infection rates among African-American women have decreased 21% since 2008, from 7,700 in 2008 to 6,100 in 2010. However, among women as a monolithic demographic (indeed, the data is very unclear about trans women or women of transgender experience), black women (again, a strange monolithic population) accounted for 64% of all new infections among all women. The CDC states it will need to conduct years of more research to determine if these trends are part of a larger pattern.