AIDS experts and activists reacted with alarm to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that HIV infections and AIDS diagnoses were up among the nation's gay and bisexual men in 2002 for the third consecutive year. Data culled from 25 states showed that new HIV infections among gay men rose 7.1% in 2002.
"We continue to sound this warning note to communities and state and local health departments that we need to redouble our [prevention] efforts," Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, said from the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "This new data suggest that the dramatic progress we made in the fight against AIDS after the advent of antiviral treatment in the mid '90s is beginning to plateau.... It's clear we need to reach gay and bisexual men with appropriate messages, not only in traditional high-risk settings but also online."
Other AIDS experts at the prevention conference, including those from states hit hard by HIV like California, New York, and Florida, also said the rising infection rates were further proof that prevention efforts need to better emphasize safer sex and other risk-reduction practices for those who are already infected with HIV to prevent them from passing the virus to others.