Study results released Monday by the HIV Prevention Trials Network showed disturbing rates of new HIV infections occurring among black gay and bisexual men in Boston and five other cities in the U.S., particularly among young black men.
The findings were presented at the 2012 International AIDS Conference.
Between 2009 and 2011, a total of 1,553 gay or bisexual men were studied in Boston, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Of those men, 237 were from the Boston area.
The study shows that the overall rate of new HIV infection among black gay or bisexual men was 2.8 percent per year, a rate that is nearly 50 percent higher than in white gay or bisexual men in the U.S.
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Even more alarming, the study found that black gay or bisexual men who were 30 years of age and younger became infected with HIV at a rate of 5.9 percent each year, which is three times the rate among white gay or bisexual men.
“For those of use who have been doing this work this isn’t a surprise. I think the study reinforces what we knew,” said Rebecca Haag, CEO of AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. “I think what it means for Boston is that we really need to engage the black community as a whole in this epidemic even more. We need to get the black churches more involved, and other civic organizations, to recognize that this disease is killing their young men. And we need the community to embrace what’s going on, and urge all young men they know to get tested, and if they test positive, to get into care.”
The Fenway Institute worked with the Multicultural AIDS Coalition on the study.
“We found that the men had many unmet medical and social service needs. There is an urgent need to focus resources to address these high rates of HIV infection as part of the larger national strategy to combat the AIDS epidemic," said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, the Medical Research Director at Fenway.
By the numbers
In America in 2009:
1,200,000 people aged 15 and older living with HIV/AIDS
0.6% percentage of people aged 15-49 with HIV/AIDS
310,000 women aged 15 and older living with HIV/AIDS
920,000 men aged 15 and over living with HIV/AIDS
17,000 AIDS deaths in adults and children