Study finds elevated HIV infection rates among young black gay, bisexual men


Staff Reports

HIV infection rates among gay and bisexual black men are significantly higher than the rates among their white counterparts, according to a study released by HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).

The study, also known as HPTN 061, was released Monday at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. and it required over 1500 men from six major cities.

HPTN 061 is the first study to determine the rate of HIV incidence among a large population of U.S. black gay and bisexual men — known in the study as men who have sex with men, or MSM.

According to the report, U.S. black MSM have a new HIV infection rate of 2.8 percent per year, 50 percent higher than White MSM’s new infection rate. Black MSM under 30 worry researchers even more; they have an infection rate of 5.9 percent per year, a rate comparable to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa hardest hit by HIV.

The news confirmed what researchers already knew however; the severity of HIV incidence among black MSM has researchers scrambling for a solution.

“We have known that black MSM are affected by HIV at disproportionately higher rates when compared to other MSM in the U.S., but the HPTN 061 HIV incidence rates were extremely high,” said Darrell Wheeler, HPTN 061 Study Co-Chair and Dean of the School of Social Work at Loyola University, in a statement.

“They make it very clear that we must urgently find a implement ways to stem the spread of HIV among black gay men in this county, and critically among young Black gay men.”

Various social, cultural and economic factors contribute to the extremely high rates of HIV incidence among black MSM according to Ben Perkins, Project Director at the Fenway Institute.

Researchers plan to focus on the social, cultural and economic factors in future studies, in order to get a grip on the alarming statistics.

“The HPTN 061 study results are part of an HIV prevention narrative that consistently continues to show that black MSM are exceedingly vulnerable,” Perkins said in a statement.

“The truth is that these troubling HIV infection rates are associated with underlying issues of stigma, discrimination, joblessness, homelessness, incarceration, and trauma. Any attempts to address the HIV problem will, therefore, by necessity, need to tackle these issues in order to make a real and lasting impact in the epidemic.”

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