HIV awareness on the rise among urban gay men

From MedPage Today

city boys holding handsMore gay and bisexual men infected with HIV are aware they have the virus, at least in 20 major urban areas. On the other hand, the prevalence of the infection has remained “relatively steady” among men who have sex with men (MSM) in those areas, according to Cyprian Wejnert, PhD, of the CDC. But while awareness of the infection rose in most subgroups of the gay and bisexual population, there are still “concerning disparities,” Wejnert told reporters here at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Specifically, blacks were most likely to be HIV-positive and least likely to know about it, he said. The findings are derived from data collected by the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System in 20 urban areas, ranging from Seattle to San Juan, with a high burden of AIDS, Wejnert said.

In 2011, investigators interviewed participants in dance clubs and bars frequented by MSM and offered them anonymous HIV testing. That year, 8,423 participants had both an interview and a test, compared with 7,847 in 2008. Wejnert told MedPage Today that the research takes place every third year, with similar investigations in other years among heterosexuals and injection drug users, the other two major risk groups for HIV infection.

The researchers found:

  • Of the 8,423 participants in 2011, 18% were HIV-positive compared with 19% in 2008.
  • Of those who tested positive, 66% were already aware of the fact, up from 56% in 2008.
  • Prevalence varied by race and ethnicity, with 30% of blacks testing positive compared with 14% of whites.
  • Awareness also varied by race and ethnicity, with 54% of blacks knowing their status compared with 86% of whites. But in all racial and ethnic groups, awareness has risen since 2008.

Read the full article on MedPage Today.


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