September 24, 2010
September 27, 2010 is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD)—a day to not only bring attention to and promote understanding of the disproportionate burden of HIV among gay and bisexual men, but also to recommit ourselves to the fight to end this devastating epidemic.
The rate of new HIV infection in the U.S. is increasing among only one risk group: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). More than half (57%) of those with new HIV infections in the U.S. each year and more than half (53%) of people living with HIV in the U.S. are gay or bisexual men or MSM who inject drugs. Vast disparities in infection rates exist across racial, ethnic, geographic, and age groups, and barriers to HIV testing result in a high proportion of infected men who are not aware of their infection.
This year’s NGMHAAD comes after a new CDC study, released yesterday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), that reminds us why refocusing our attention on HIV prevention and treatment among gay and bisexual men is critical. The study reports on survey and HIV test results from 8,153 MSM in 21 major U.S. cities participating in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) and found:
- Approximately 1 in 5 (19%) MSM in the 21 cities included in the analysis was infected with HIV. Almost one-third (28%) of black MSM, 18% of Hispanic MSM, and 16% of white MSM were infected with HIV.
- Of those with HIV, nearly half (44%) were unaware of their infection. Young MSM and MSM of color with HIV were least likely to know of their infection.
- Socioeconomic status and HIV status were linked among MSM. Prevalence of HIV increased as education and income decreased, and awareness of HIV status was higher among MSM with greater education and income.
- HIV rates in MSM varied across the cities in the study, from a low of 6% in Atlanta to 39% in Baltimore. More than one quarter of MSM were infected in Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and New York.
To view the article and related materials, visit the CDC HIV/AIDS website.
HIV is a complex disease, fueled by myriad factors. Gay and bisexual men with multiple partners face an increased risk of infection, as do those who use drugs during sex. Many gay and bisexual men do not get tested or retested regularly because they are afraid they may be infected, yet this hinders life-saving treatment and puts their partners at risk. Stigma, homophobia, and discrimination are real issues that may prevent gay and bisexual men from accessing the prevention and treatment resources they need.
We hope NGMHAAD, as well as these new data, will reenergize those working hard to provide much-needed services to gay and bisexual men at risk for and living with HIV. Prevention among gay and bisexual men is a top priority for CDC, and we collaborate with our partners across the country to accomplish our goals. Not only do we closely monitor HIV/AIDS data and trends to inform our intervention work, but we also provide funding to state and local health departments and community-based organizations that conduct HIV prevention programs for gay and bisexual men; support training and technical assistance for interventions that target gay and bisexual men; and conduct research on a variety of prevention approaches, including testing, microbicides, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, vaccines, and behavioral interventions. We also aim to provide gay and bisexual men and their communities with appropriate messages about HIV through social marketing, fact sheets, web-based information, and other avenues.
For more information, please visit
CDCís newly launched web page focused on the health of gay and bisexual men.
Thank you for your commitment to HIV prevention.
/Jonathan H. Mermin/
Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H.
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral
Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention