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CDC: One in five sexually active gay urban men has HIV

Here's an update on the AIDS epidemic from one of my colleagues, Darryl Fears:

One in five gay men in the United States has HIV, and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware that they are infected, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday.

The study, which tested more than 8,000 men in 21 cities in 2008, the most comprehensive such study by the CDC, found that young, sexually active gay men and those in minority groups are least likely to know their health status, even as infection rates are climbing among men who have sex with men, while the rates of other at-risk groups -- heterosexuals and intravenous drug users -- are falling. The findings were published Thursday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report and were released ahead of National Gay Men's HIV Awareness Day on Sept. 27.

A CDC official called for a sharper focus on testing. "This study's message is clear: HIV exacts a devastating toll on men who have sex with men in America's major cities, and yet far too many of those who are infected don't know it," said Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

Cities in the study include Baltimore, where the prevalence rate among men who have sex with men was highest at 38 percent, and Atlanta, where it was lowest at 6 percent.

In the District, where the general HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is about 4 percent, more than 16,000 adults, one of the highest numbers in the nation, has the virus, according to the city Department of Health. According to the CDC study, the District had a 14 percent prevalence rate among men who have sex with men.

In the Atlantic region, New York had a rate of 29 percent, Philadelphia had a rate of 11 percent and Newark had a rate of 19 percent. The more impoverished the men were, the more likely they were to be infected, the study found.

A CDC spokeswoman said the recent study's findings were similar to those of a National Health Behavioral Study conducted between June 2004 and April 2005, when one in four gay men tested positive for the virus.

But the percentage of minorities who tested positive changed dramatically in the three years since the previous study. Back then, 46 percent of gay black men tested positive in the smaller study, compared to 40 percent in the larger 2008 study. Black gay men outpaced white and Hispanic men in both studies. In the earlier study, Hispanics represented 18 percent of the infected compared to 23 percent in the most recent study. White men comprised 21 percent of the infected in 2004-2005 and 20 percent in the more recent study.

By Darryl Fears  | September 23, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  AIDS  
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HIV-AIDS is an immorally transmitted disease. Continence [morality] would wipe it off the face of the earth.

Posted by: Forward11 | September 23, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Good idea. We should all practice continence. Otherwise living is a messy business.

Posted by: denial1 | September 23, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and abstinence might work, too.

Posted by: HImom | September 23, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Actually, incontinence would dramatiacally stop the spread of AIDS. Think about it.

Posted by: PepperDr | September 23, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I just can't comprehend the reckless behavior. At least take precautions. Instead of demanding that the government and everyone else do something about it, try a little self-help, initiative, and preventive action. Blaming others and refusing to take responsibility is getting a little old. It's like smokers with lung cancer who, in spite of all the warnings, blame the Marlboro Man. It's a dog that just doesn't hunt. I'm not bashing gays just their out of control and illogical behavior.

Posted by: Calabrese99 | September 24, 2010 4:34 AM | Report abuse

Duh! Compost: tell us something we don't already know. Gays have been told for over 2 decades how stop the spread of HIV and AIDS but they refuse to listen.

Posted by: georgana | September 24, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

As I've posted before we could wipe out this disease in one generation. Test everyone; tatoo everyone with full blown AIDS on the inner thigh, front and back.

Because its a gay disease ---- FOR THE MOST PART --- political correctness determines what we do, not logic. So we develop "drug cocktails" that allow people to avoid the symptoms and thus provide no motivation to change behavior. Lord knows, if there's one thing very tough for a young gay man to resist, it's temptation.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | September 24, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Of course measures that would help prevent the spread of the disease are opposed by the whacko right wing.

Posted by: Nymous | September 24, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

How long has it been known that gay men are more likely to get HIV and yet 50% of the gays that have the virus don't know they have it?????

Could a segment of our society be anymore stupid than the gays??????

Posted by: doughboy96 | September 24, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Still appears to be an epidemic

Posted by: blasmaic | September 24, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

In states where gay marriage is legal, should gay men be tested for AIDS before receiving a marriage license, just as str8 couples were required to take a Wasserman test before being married?

Posted by: captn_ahab | September 24, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It is not a gay disease. The majority of the infections in this country and the entire world are in heterosexuals. The continued ignorance in calling this a gay disease is disturbing. All you little cowards and crybabies are at risk if you ever have sex just as much as gay men. But if you spend as much time thinking about gay sex as some of you obviously do, well then you aren't very happy with your own sex lives are you? Of course not. ONE MORE TIME FOR THE IGNORNORANT: The vast majority of cases in this country and the world are in heterosexuals. Look it up. This is true. Stomping your little feet and crying that it is only homosexuals only makes you look like a complete idiot.

Posted by: greenmansf | September 24, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse


If you visit the CDC site, available on line, you will find that the incidence of HIV infection, in the United States, among men who have sex with men and men who have sex with men and use intravenous drugs is about 60% and is at least twice the incidence among high risk US heterosexual sexually active groups.

Thus, a rational person living in the US would be willing to acknowledge that HIV is a special problem among men having sex with men.

There is no value or moral judgement involved. It only requires an unemotional evaluation of the US data.

Posted by: captn_ahab | September 24, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse


Please note the conditions and sample population for this study. Yes, they interviewed 8100 men who have sex with men, but 67% were conducted outside of gay bars/clubs in a very 1980's style fashion.

I also saw some of the interviews occurring outside of health clinics that specialize in HIV/AIDS treatment.

These numbers are inflated, but the message is still clear:

HIV/AIDS is not a punishment. It is a disease. Furthermore, it is a disease that can be avoided through testing, safer sex practices, and dedication to monogamy. The number of HIV/AIDS infections per year, whether gay or straight, is still far too high. Everyone should get tested. Everyone should ask every partner about their status. Everyone should use protection until at least 3 months into monogamy when both partners have been tested.

This disease can be stopped. I'm doing something about it. I just hope you and every other poster here is doing something about it as well. There is no excuse for not knowing your status.

Posted by: RJ0416 | September 30, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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