HIV Infection Rates Rising Amongst Gay and Bisexual Men

Blacks Accounted for Over Half of Infections From 2000 to 2003

The results of a federal study reported that newly diagnosed HIV infections in gay and bisexual men in the United States have risen.

Thirty-two states participated in the study and it is reported that 125,800 diagnoses have been made. Gay and bisexual males constitute 44 percent of this amount.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an Atlanta based agency, said that 11 percent more infections have been diagnosed in men who engage in same sex intercourse from 2000 through 2003.

Overall, the HIV/AIDS diagnosis rate of the US population has stayed the same. In 2003 there were 19.7 cases per 100,000 people and in 2000 there were 19.5 per 100,000 people.

The CDC also reported that blacks accounted for 51 percent of diagnoses made from 2000-2003. Nearly 13 percent of the US population is comprised of blacks.

Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Director of the CDC’s HIV/AIDS prevention program said “This is not a trend we want to ignore. We need to make sure the leadership in the gay community understands the importance of tracking this very carefully.”

Valdiserri added that the findings of this study support previous studies involving gay and bisexual males. However, there was difficulty narrowing the scope of the epidemic due to limited geographical reach. Eighteen states had not met reporting standards and were excluded from the study.

The AIDS epidemic swept the US in 1981. The disease is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which destroys the immune system by making it impossible to fight infections and certain cancers. There is no cure for the virus. About half million Americans and 22 million people worldwide have died as a result of this epidemic.

Gay and bisexual men are believed to constitute a majority of the 850,000 to 950,000 Americans living with the virus that causes AIDS. Death from AIDS has measured approximately 16,000 per year in the late 1990s. New statistics show that there have been 40,000 deaths per year from HIV infections.

Public Health officials are concerned with the increasing rates of HIV and a possible resurgence in the country. In efforts to lessen these numbers, both health officials and the US government are working to implement programs to inform and counsel both infected and uninfected people.

In addition to this development, it was reported that syphilis infections in gay and bisexual men has also increased. Although there is a cure for Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) there is an increased risk of contracting HIV.

The results of the study were released in commemoration of World AIDS Day, whic took place Wednesday.