Experts Concerned About Rising HIV Rates Among Poor,
TUESDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- HIV/AIDS experts gathering
in Atlanta this week expressed growing concerns over a rise in
rates of HIV infection among the nation's poor and minorities.
New data released Tuesday at the National HIV Prevention
Conference by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
found that 19 percent of gay and bisexual men, 9 percent of
intravenous drug users and 2 percent of low-income heterosexuals
were infected with HIV. This compares with an overall infection
rate in the United States of only 0.47 percent. And nearly half of
people in each of these high-risk groups were unaware of their HIV
However, young black men are being hit the hardest: While the
overall number of new HIV infections each year in the United States
has remained relatively stable at about 50,000, infection rates
have increased sharply among black gay and bisexual men, according
to Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS
at the CDC.
"The most concerning finding was that new HIV infections among black gay and bisexual men aged 18-to-29 increased 50 percent between 2006 and 2009," Fenton said at a press briefing on Monday. "That group was the only group in the U.S. to experience significant increases during that time."
Even more troubling, data released Tuesday showed that a big
proportion of individuals in some of these high-risk groups also
report having engaged in high-risk behaviors over the past year,
including unprotected sex and sharing needles.
"We found substantial levels of HIV infections and high-risk behavior, infrequent testing and low awareness. . . This is a major concern," said study co-author Dr. Alexandra Oster, a co-medical epidemiologist with the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC. "This provides insight into the population we most need to be reaching."
Other data being presented at the conference suggests that a
troubling 41 percent of adults and teens living with HIV aren't
getting needed care. And more whites (about two-thirds) seemed to
be receiving adequate care (including HIV testing) vs. only 55
percent of blacks and 49 percent of Latinos.
Improvements in care are clearly needed, experts at the
conference stressed, and some are beginning to be seen. For
example, one report found that three-quarters of health departments
around the United States are now putting routine HIV testing in
places such as emergency rooms and community health clinics.
And an institution in Cleveland found that reminding health-care
providers about the test and improving their communication skills
boosted the number of people getting tested by 64 percent over six
Last but not least, the CDC is rolling out a new campaign called
Testing Makes Us Stronger, which is aimed at increasing rates of HIV testing and awareness among black gay men. The campaign will feature messages posted in ads as well as on social media and in outreach programs.
Find out more on outreach programs to combat the spread of HIV
for Disease Control and Prevention.
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