Half of black gay men will get HIV in their lifetime, CDC says

The drug Truvada, which prevents HIV, is a tool in efforts to cut infection rates in gay black men.

The drug Truvada, which prevents HIV, is a tool in efforts to cut infection rates in gay black men. AP

Half of black gay and bisexual men and a quarter of Latino gay and bi men will get HIV in their lifetime, predicts a new study from the Centers for Disease ControlUPI reports.

The study found that overall HIV diagnoses in the U.S. are declining but that the risk is disproportionately high for some groups, foremost gay and bi men overall, who have a 1 in 6 chance of getting HIV, based on current stats. Black gay men are seven times more likely than white ones to be diagnosed with HIV, despite other studies showing that black people do not partake in more risky sexual behavior compared to other racial groups.

Previous to this finding, studies have attributed the high rates of HIV among gay black men to the fact that they tend to have sex in very tightly knit sexual networks of other black men, many of them older, where preexisting HIV rates are already high.

According to the CDC last year, 1 in 4 gay men could benefit from using pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, drugs to protect them from HIV based on their higher risk of exposure.

“As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are, they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention. “The prevention and care strategies we have at our disposal today provide a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and disparities in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now.”

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