“Alarming Increase” in HIV Infections Among Young Black Gay/Bisexual Men

hiv ribbon(BlackDoctor.org) — The number of new HIV cases in the United States has remained relatively stable at about 50,000 per year-but the soaring number of new cases among young Black gay and bisexual men is “alarming,” according to government officials. New HIV cases among young Black gay and bisexual men rose an estimated 48 percent between 2006-2009, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“They’re calling this ‘alarming’ but it’s clearly past that point,” says Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. “Our house is on fire.”

The new estimates were published today in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE. The new data surveys the period between 2006 and 2009. This is the first time HIV incidence numbers were calculated using a lab test that distinguishes recent infections from existing infections. According to the new estimates, there were 48,600 new HIV infections in the United States in 2006, 56,000 in 2007, 47,800 in 2008 and 48,100 in 2009. In 2009, the largest number of new infections were among white gay and bisexual men (11,400), followed very closely by Black gay/bi men at 10,800. Latino gay/bisexual men (6,000) and Black women (5,400) were also heavily affected.

CDC estimates gay/bi men are only about 2 percent of the population-but account for 61 percent of all new HIV increases. The numbers are more severe for Black gay and bisexual men. Blacks are about 12 percent of the population but 44 percent of all HIV infections. Black men are 70 percent of all infections in the African American community and Black gay/bi men are 73% of all infections in Black America.

“That is an outrage,” says Phill Wilson. “That number is completely unacceptable. Especially now when the prevention toolbox is literally exploding with new options.”