Data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the number of newly diagnosed HIV infections among gay men was 17% higher in 2002 than in 1999, The Washington Post reports. Latino men who have sex with men posted the highest rise in new infections, with 26% more last year than in 1999. New infections among white men were 8% higher, while infection levels among African-Americans and Asians remained about the same. The statistics are from 29 states that record all new HIV infections and are considered to be an accurate reflection of national trends. The number of gay men newly diagnosed with HIV in the 29 states surveyed was 9,988 in 1999, but climbed to 11,686 in 2002. Of all the people diagnosed with HIV in the 29 reporting states between 1999 and 2002, 46% of them were men who have sex with men.
Health experts say the increases in new HIV infections among gay men shows that prevention efforts are starting to lag. "We need to remind not just the groups at risk but the American public that HIV and AIDS is not over in the United States," said Ronald O. Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention. CDC officials blame the rise in new HIV infections on AIDS complacency, both due to a misconception that antiretroviral treatments can provide lifelong control of HIV infection and because a new generation of gay men now coming of age have no firsthand recollection of the early days of the epidemic.