HIV and AIDS cases increasing among young black gay men in US

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While blacks represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. HIV infection rates among blacks were nearly eight times higher than rates in whites.

New HIV infections affected young men who have sex with men of all races, but the CDC saw very sharp increases among young black men who have sex with men.

The annual number of new infections peaked at 130,000 in the mid-1980s, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, the AIDS prevention chief for the CDC.

Estimating new infections is complicated; it can take many years for an infection to cause symptoms and illness. The new blood test can tell how recent an infection occurred.

The American epidemic is still concentrated primarily in gay men, and is growing rapidly worse among young black gay men.

Activists say the persistent infection rate proves that government prevention policy is a flop.

Recent studies have shown that getting people on antiretroviral drugs early makes them 96 percent less likely to infect others, so there is a growing outcry for “test and treat” – shorthand for actively seeking out gay men and drug injectors and asking them to get tested, and then helping them find medical care if they have the disease.

The CDC report was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

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