On Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control released its latest round of multiyear HIV statistics, and once again the rates of African-American infection, especially among Black male homosexuals, were causes for concern to say the least.
Overall the number of new HIV infections in the United States remained stable between 2006 and 2009 with about 50,000 infections each year. However, the increase in the number of young Black homosexuals was alarming.
“Not only do men who have sex with men continue to account for most new infections, young gay and bisexual men are the only group in which infections are increasing, and this increase is particularly concerning among young African-American MSM,” said CDC director Thomas Frieden, M.D.
Black male homosexuals were the only subgroup with a notable increase—48 percent during that time period, according to CDC estimates—in new infections during that time period.
What are some reasons behind the rise? Some factors could include higher numbers of Black male gays not being aware of their HIV status, inadequate health care and the stigma of HIV and homosexuality in the Black community, the CDC press release stated.
In general, the African-American population continues to outpace other races in rates of infection, though there was no significant increase overall during the documented time period. In 2009, Blacks accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections, though they are only 14 percent of the population. This rate is almost eight times that of whites. Black men had the highest rate of infection amongst any group.
“HIV remains one of the most glaring health disparities in this country,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, according to the release. “While we all have individual responsibility to protect ourselves from HIV infection, the research clearly shows that individual risk behavior alone doesn’t account for the significant racial disparities in HIV."
(Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)