Nearly one in five gay/bisexual men in the 21 US cities hardest hit by HIV/AIDS are HIV positive and nearly half don't know it, according to new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black men who have sex with men and younger Black MSM were even less likely to know their HIV status.
The new CDC data expands on previous reports that Black MSM are particularly impacted by the HIV epidemic. Twenty-eight percent of black MSM are HIV positive, compared to 18 percent of Hispanic and 16 percent of white MSM, according to the findings published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The study involved more than 8,000 men. The data also show that Black MSM are most in need of HIV testing and prevention. Black MSM with HIV were least likely to be aware of their infection—59 percent unaware vs. 46 percent for Hispanic MSM and 26 percent for white MSM. The numbers for younger Black MSM are even more startling: Among HIV-infected black MSM under age 30, 71 percent were unaware of their infection compared to 40 percent of HIV-infected white MSM under age 30.
Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., director of the CDCs National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, spoke to Rod 2.0 about the data. "The numbers among younger Black men who have sex with men are particularly concerning to CDC," Dr. Fenton tells R20. "If you look at the data, the numbers for younger Black MSM are more pronounced in some cities in the Midwest and the South. There are multiple factors in these smaller cities. You could have greater segregation, more homophobia ... and fewer community organizations serving Black MSM and younger Black MSM."
More of Dr. Fenton's interview later on R20 ...
Black MSM—especially younger ones—have seen the largest increase in infections across the country. In July, the White House unveiled the nation's first National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The strategy shifts focus to "concentrate HIV prevention efforts at the highest-risk population"—including men who have sex with men (MSM) and black Americans—but entails no new additional spending. Read our series on the NHAS for the Black AIDS Institute HERE, HERE and HERE.