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Young gay, bisexual men still hard hit by AIDS

By Christy Feig
CNN Medical Unit

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is marking the 20th anniversary of its first published mortality report on what came to be called AIDS.

The agency is releasing a new study involving infection patterns in six cities which shows that infection rates continue to be the highest in young gay and bisexual black men.

The research appears in Friday's edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which published the first article on what came to be known as AIDS on June 5, 1981.

The CDC studied the infection patterns of young gay men ages 23-29 in Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Seattle from 1998-2000 and found overall in the study the rate of new infections in this group was 4.4 percent: 2.5 percent among whites, 3.5 percent among Hispanics, and 14.7 percent among African Americans.

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Dr. Helene Gayle of the CDC said, the rate of new infections in black men in this category is "about five times higher than for whites and approximately four times higher than Latino men in this population."

The 14.7 percent, researchers explained, means 100 of these men would start a year uninfected but by the end of the year 15 of them would have HIV.

Gayle said, "Young gay and bisexual men are at the highest risk for HIV in this country."

The researchers stressed the sample size of the study was small, 2,942 young men who were gay or bisexual. So, while this showed the trend in each city, it cannot be extrapolated to a nationwide trend.

Domestically, the CDC says although the epidemic started in white gay men and intravenous drug users, today it's African American men and women, and Latinos who are hit disproportionately hard.

Currently there are between 800,000 and 900,000 Americans living with HIV, and the CDC estimates nearly a third of them (300,000) don't even know they are infected. Almost 450,000 Americans have died of AIDS and every year an estimated 40,000 more are infected.

The number of new infections has been level at 40,000 for several years so the CDC is launching a new prevention campaign aimed at reaching those already infected and challenging others to find out their status. The thinking is those who know they are HIV infected will be more likely to take precautions necessary to keep their partners from getting infected.

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.

• HIV InSite Home Page
• JAMA HIV/AIDS Information Center
• HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service (ATIS): Home Page
• National Library of Medicine: HIV/AIDS Information

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