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Black American Men Have High Rates of HIV Infection: Study

MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds disturbingly high rates of new HIV infections among American black men who are gay or bisexual, particularly those aged 30 and younger.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Researchers with the HIV Prevention Trials Network looked at nearly 1,600 black gay and bisexual men in six cities -- Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. -- between 2009 and 2011.

The overall rate of new HIV infection among the men was 2.8 percent per year, which is nearly 50 percent higher than in white gay and bisexual men in the United States. The rate among black gay and bisexual men 30 and younger was 5.9 percent per year.

The overall rate of new HIV infection among black gay and bisexual men in the United States is comparable to rates in the general populations of countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have been hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The study was to be presented Monday at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. Data and conclusions presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

"We have known that black [gay and bisexual men] are affected by HIV at disproportionately higher rates when compared to other [gay and bisexual men] in the U.S., but the [study's] HIV incidence rates were extremely high," study co-chairman Darrell Wheeler, dean of the School of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago, said in an HIV Prevention Trials Network news release. "They make it very clear that we must urgently find and implement ways to stem the spread of HIV among black gay men in this country, and critically among young black gay men."

Other early analyses from the study show that HIV infection in black gay and bisexual men in the United States was associated with both poverty and high rates of untreated sexually transmitted infections.

"The study findings are a sobering wake-up call," Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, co-principal investigator for the HIV Prevention Trials Network, said in the news release. "These results -- and others to be garnered from further analysis of the study -- highlight the enormity of the challenges ahead and offer important insights into how to design research studies and programs for prevention of HIV among black [gay and bisexual men]."

The researchers are continuing their analysis of data from the study in order to determine whether HIV risk among black gay and bisexual men might be affected by childhood experiences, social and sexual networks, discrimination, homophobia, health care and incarceration.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about HIV and AIDS in the United States.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: HIV Prevention Trials Network, news release, July 23, 2012

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