By NY Times / David Tuller
Diagnoses of H.I.V. and AIDS in men who have sex with men rose significantly between 2001 and 2006 while declining in other demographic groups, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported Thursday.
The increase in diagnoses was especially high among males between the ages of 13 and 24, with an annual increase of 12.4 percent, compared to 1.5 percent for men overall. The annual increase was still higher among young African-American men who have sex with men, nearly 15 percent. Among African-American men of all ages who have sex with men, the annual increase in diagnoses was 1.9 percent.
Experts said yesterday that the new statistics were an ominous -- but not necessarily surprising -- indicator that the epidemic continues to flourish among gay men more than 25 years after it began. “It’s a grim report,” said Dr. Ronald Stall, an epidemiologist and professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh. “It means roughly speaking that about half of the American AIDS epidemic is occurring among a few percent of the adult population. And the terrible trends we’re seeing among white gay men are even amplified further among minority men.” Sex between men accounted for more than 97,000 new diagnoses over the six years, almost half of the total number, according to the CDC. report. In contrast, diagnoses attributed to high-risk heterosexual contact and injection-drug use declined annually by, respectively, 4.4 percent and 9.5 percent.
The findings were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the C.D.C.’s widely read public health journal. The data were based on reporting from 33 states and did not include statistics from some with large gay and minority populations, including California, Illinois and Georgia. The agency noted, however, that the racial disparities presented in the report generally reflected national trends in the epidemiology of AIDS. The agency reported that some of the rise could stem from higher rates of H.I.V. testing among men who have sex with men but added that “available data suggest that these increases cannot be explained by increases in testing alone.”
The C.D.C. recently launched a new H.I.V. reporting system designed to differentiate between recent and older infections. Data from the new effort should become available later this year, according to the agency, and will help experts more accurately track the impact of H.I.V. prevention programs. Jennifer Hecht, education director at the Stop AIDS Project in San Francisco, said that lack of access to information was a key factor in the increase in infection rates. “In a lot of ways this is connected to the administration’s policy of emphasizing abstinence-only education,” she said. “And the high rates we see among black men and other minorities indicate that it’s very much connected to larger issues like poverty and racism.” [Um, that's just plain bullshit logic, all the way around. Hecht's comments could be considered racist and stereotypical. FWIW, abstinence education works -- proven record. Teaching sexual promiscuity is one problem. Teaching that homosexuality is natural and normal and acceptable is the largest problem.
The rates of infection per state are also indicative of this fact. In states where traditional values are more prevalent, infections are lower. In states, like California, where anything goes is the mentality, infections rates are rampant.]
Dr. Richard Wolitski, acting director of the C.D.C.’s Division of H.I.V./AIDS Prevention, said that several factors could be fueling the increase in diagnoses, particularly among younger men. “Because of the new treatments, some men perceive it to be a less severe disease than it once was,” he said. “And this is a new generation that hasn’t been personally affected in the same way that older men have been.”