Study: Black male gays, bisexuals hit hard by HIV
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Black gay or bisexual men who took part in a new AIDS study were five times more likely to become HIV-infected than their white counterparts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.
But the CDC stressed that there were not enough participants in the study for it to reflect national trends.
The new AIDS study of 2,942 young men who were gay or bisexual was released to mark the 20th anniversary of the CDC's first report on the deadly, incurable disease.
It also cites U.S. progress in fighting AIDS but calls for further reduction in infection rates for HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS.
The report is based on a CDC study of infection patterns of young gay men ages 23-29 in Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; New York City; and Seattle, Washington, from 1998 to 2000. It found that the rate of new infections among all study participants was 4.4 percent: 2.5 percent among whites, 3.5 percent among Hispanics and 14.7 percent among blacks.
The 14.7 percent rate means that 100 of these men would start the year uninfected and, by the end of the year, 15 of them would test positive for HIV.
"Young gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk for HIV in this country," the CDC's Dr. Helene Gayle said.
Most Americans now in their 20s are too young to remember how frightened many Americans were during the early 1980s when the first reports of AIDS surfaced in the United States. Many are too young to remember how fear of the disease prompted a strong push by activist groups to raise awareness about safe sexual practices aimed at reducing the spread of the disease.
Although the U.S. AIDS epidemic began among white, gay men and intravenous drug users, the CDC says that currently, black men and women and Latinos are being hit disproportionately hard.
Eighty-two percent of a survey of 550 black elected officials across the nation said AIDS is a more urgent problem in their communities than it was a few years ago.
The Kaiser Family Foundation study also showed that 56 percent of respondents feel that the federal government is doing very little to combat AIDS in the African-American community.
There are between 800,000 and 900,000 people in the United States living with HIV. The CDC estimates nearly a third of them (300,000) don't even know they are infected. Almost 450,000 people nationwide have died of AIDS and each year an estimated 40,000 more are infected.
However, at a news conference on Thursday in Washington, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher said the medical community has made advances in fighting AIDS. He noted a decrease from 150,000 new U.S. HIV infections each year in the 1980s to an estimated 40,000 new infections each year in the 1990s.
"We made progress," Satcher said. "But clearly we have much to do and we have much further to go."
The CDC's goal for the prevention program is to cut new infections by half in the next five years.
Worldwide, an estimated 36 million people are infected with HIV, and 22 million have died.
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