CDC: HIV testing, condom use must be increased among gay black men

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 23 2002 11:00 PM ET

HIV antibody testing and the consistent use of condoms must be increased in order to stem rising HIV infection rates among young gay and bisexual African-American men, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in Friday's edition of the government publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Young black gay and bisexual men are at a greater risk of HIV infection than any other demographic group in the country, according to CDC statistics. A recent study and HIV testing program involving young black men who have sex with men showed that 16% were HIV-positive and that nearly 93% of the men who tested positive for HIV antibodies had been previously unaware they were infected. Of the HIV-positive study participants who were unaware they carried the virus, nearly three quarters characterized themselves as having "no chance" or being "very unlikely" or "unlikely" to be infected.

To help raise HIV awareness and increase testing, health providers should regularly evaluate risk factors of their patients and encourage all gay and bisexual men to take a test for HIV antibodies at least once a year, the CDC report recommends. The report also encourages health care providers and HIV education campaigns to encourage consistent use of condoms to protect black gay and bisexual men against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and to emphasize the importance of HIV testing by highlighting the advantages of early diagnosis and HIV care.