This may good news for black women, while the general rate of HIV of new HIV infections in the United States has remained the same over the last decade, a new government report shows that it is decreasing among black women and increasing among young gay and bisexual men.
“The data suggests that [black] women are starting to take control,” says Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS. “They are realizing that this is a threat to their families and their lives.”
There is no clear cause and effect, Fenton says, and a variety of reasons could explain this recent decline. However, over the last five years, the CDC says it’s increased its HIV prevention efforts in the black community, including partnering with organizations to increase HIV testing and treatment.
From 2008 to 2010, black women experienced a 21 percent decrease in new HIV infections (from 7,700 to 6,100). But overall, African Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV (with an HIV rate almost eight times higher than white people), comprising 44 percent of all the new infections in 2010.
The report also showed that young men who have sex with men experienced a 22 percent increase in new HIV infections during the same time period (from 7,200 to 8,800). Men who have sex with men — a term used by researchers to focus on behavior and bypass issues of sexual identity — comprised about 78 percent of new HIV infections in men in 2010, and 63 percent of total new HIV infections in both men and women that year, the report said.
Young black men who have sex with men fared the worst. This group — ages 13 to 24 — actually had an increase in HIV cases from 2008 to 2010, and accounted for more new infections than any other race, ethnicity, age group or gender.
“The crisis among young gay and bisexual men is really a threat to the next generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals,” says Fenton.