A three-year study of Asian and Pacific Islander men in the San Francisco area debunks a common myth among such men that they are somehow immune to HIV infection by showing that HIV incidence among Asian gay men is similar to gay men overall, reports the Bay Area Reporter. HIV incidence among Asian and Pacific Islander men was pegged at about 1.8%, down slightly from the 2% rate for the gay community as a whole, according to a San Francisco Health Department study of 496 Asian gay men ages 19-29 conducted from 1999 to 2002.
Incidences of male rectal gonorrhea and early syphilis among Asian and Pacific Islanders were actually higher than in the general gay population, according to the study, as were reported incidences of unprotected anal sex. Nearly half of the men surveyed said they had engaged in unprotected anal sex during the previous six months. About one quarter of all the study subjects had never been tested for HIV infection. "A window of opportunity to prevent further spread of HIV among API men who have sex with men may be closing," wrote the researchers. They recommend that culturally sensitive safer-sex programs and HIV prevention outreach be developed to urge gay Asian and Pacific Islander men to take steps decrease their risky behaviors, including using condoms for anal sex.