A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of African-American men who have sex with men in five U.S. cities shows that nearly half were HIV-positive, more than double the rate of white or Latino gay and bisexual men in the same cities. More than two thirds of the HIV-positive black men were unaware they carried the virus. Forty-six percent of all African-American men who have sex with men tested were HIV-positive, compared with 21% of white men and 17% of Latino men. Overall, about half of all the men who tested HIV-positive were unaware of their infections.
Although the data applies only to the five cities where it was collected--Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco--CDC officials believe the results are indicative of HIV levels among particular gay populations throughout the country. "We believe this to be a representative sample," Ronald Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, said at a press conference at last week's 2005 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, reports Bay Windows. "I would say that there's a great deal for concern among African-American men who have sex with men."
Because nearly half of all African-American men who have sex with men tested were shown to be HIV-positive, health officials say new prevention and education campaigns targeting this population should be launched immediately.
Just under 60% of the men who were newly identified as HIV-positive had not been screened for HIV infection during the previous year, according to the CDC. One of the main reasons for putting off HIV antibody testing, according to CDC researchers, was a fear of getting an HIV-positive test result. They recommend that HIV testing campaigns targeting men who have sex with men--particularly African-American men who have sex with men--address this barrier to testing.