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HIV rate rises 8 percent among gay, bisexual men

Posted by pozlife on May 10, 2006

HIV infections among homosexual and bisexual men in the United
States rose 8 percent last year, after remaining relatively stable the
three previous years, new federal data show.

The increase for the virus that causes
AIDS compares with average annual declines of 4 percent among
heterosexuals and 9 percent among intravenous-drug users from 2001 to
2004, according to a report in this week's issue of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly
Report.

The CDC said the recent increase in
diagnosed HIV infections among men who have sex with other men "may
reflect increases in HIV incidence, consistent with reported increases
in risk behaviors and syphilis, but it may also reflect an increase in
HIV testing."

"We don't know for certain, but we're
concerned. That 8 percent increase [between 2003 and 2004] was
consistent across all race groups," Dr. Ron Valdiserri, acting director
of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said
yesterday.

"By transmission category, men who have
sex with men continued to account for the largest number of [HIV]
diagnoses overall" between 2001 and 2004, comprising 44 percent of the
total caseload and 61 percent of male infections, according to the
report, which tracked trends in HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 33 states.

Of the 157,252 persons diagnosed with the
virus in that period, 112,106 were men and 45,146 were women. More than
68,400 men acknowledged having had sex with other men.

"For the first time ever, this national
total includes data from New York State, thus providing a more
representative picture of the U.S. epidemic," according to the report.
It pointed out that New York's HIV cases "account for over 20 percent
of all new diagnoses reported during 2001 to 2004."

Heterosexual contact was the transmission
method in 34 percent of HIV diagnoses in that period. An additional 17
percent of the cases resulted from infection through intravenous-drug
use.

Besides the 68,434 men infected through
homosexual acts, 5,723 men who tested positive for HIV could have
contracted the virus either through homosexual contact or
intravenous-drug use, according to the report.

The analysis showed that diagnoses
attributed to heterosexual exposure "varied considerably by race." The
rates ranged from a "low of 6 percent among whites to a high of 25
percent among blacks."

From the start of the AIDS epidemic in
1981, the lion's share of female HIV infections has been contracted
through heterosexual sex. That was how 76 percent of women infected
from 2001 to 2004 were exposed to the virus. Twenty-one percent
contracted it through intravenous-drug use, and 3 percent from other
causes. Black women have been particularly vulnerable, federal
epidemiologists said.

The report also found that racial
disparities in HIV infections "remain severe." During the four years
examined, 51 percent of HIV diagnoses were among blacks; 29 percent
among whites; and 18 percent among Hispanics. The rest were among
Asians and American Indians.
he rate of diagnosis among blacks fell by about 5 percent a year.
Nonetheless, the rate among blacks remained 8.4 times higher than that
of whites in 2004.

Specifically, the rate of HIV diagnosis among blacks was 76.3 per 100,000 in 2004; among whites, it was nine per 100,000.

The CDC report recommends greater HIV/AIDS-prevention efforts focusing on blacks and on homosexual and bisexual men.

It concludes that the inclusion of the New York data "greatly
strengthens the analysis of the magnitude and direction of trends in
HIV diagnoses" in the country today.

"However, a number of high-morbidity areas that lack
long-standing confidential, name-based HIV reporting, including
California and Illinois, are still not included," but should be, the
study said.

The Washington Times
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