Half of gay black men can be infected with HIV

NEW YORK:  Almost half of gay and bisexual black men will be diagnosed with the HIV in their lifetime, according to new government estimates.

In general, for the average American, the ratio of an HIV infection is 1 in 99 and has been decreasing. However, the risk varies between different groups. For example, for gay black men, the rate is 1 in 2 but less than 1 in 2,500 for heterosexual white men. The differences between different groups are significant, said Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HIV

HIV is a human immunodeficiency virus, which disperses mainly through having sex and sharing needles for injection. In the U.S., infections have been most common in men having sex with men for a long time. Since AIDS was first identified, medicines have changed the virus from a death sentence to a chronic threat.

The report provides a vivid picture about unusual changes of HIV infections. Its data were collected from HIV diagnosis and death figures during the period from 2009 to 2013.

The report shows that new HIV infections have been declining in the USA, to about 40,000 annually. A significant portion of about 10,000 cases are gay and bisexual black men. The portion has been keeping steady while that in other groups have decreased.

The lifetime risk of HIV has also been falling. Years ago, the estimate recorded by the CDC was at less than 1 in 78 for all Americans. It dropped about 20 %, to 1 in 99, for both genders. That fact suggests prevention efforts succeed, Mermin said.

The previous estimate was calculated in 33 states, while all 50 states and the District of Columbia are covered in the new report. That enabled the agency, for the first time, to calculate lifetime risk for particular groups, like gay black men, and for states.

According to the report, the chances of being infected with HIV are highest in Washington, D.C., and Southern states like Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Maryland. The chances are lowest in North Dakota. One out of 670 residents of that state will be diagnosed with HIV, while the ratio in Georgia and Maryland is about 1 in 50. The data was based on geography.

The report also shows that gay and bisexual men have the highest risk of being infected with HIV, yet there are racial differences within that group. It’s about 1 in 11 for gay white men while the proportion for blacks and Hispanics a significantly bigger. Also, among heterosexuals, blacks are much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than other racial groups. For instance, 1 in 49 black women as opposed to 1 in 1,083 white women.

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