Int'l AIDS Conference

STUDY: HIV Rates Remain Higher Among African-American Gay Men

A report presented Monday at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, reveals that black men who have sex with men are still becoming infected with HIV at a substantially higher rate than their white counterparts.

A survey of 1,553 black gay men by the Fenway Institute indicated participants acquired HIV at a rate of 2.8% per year, one-and-a-half times the rate of white gay men. Black men under the age of 30 were getting infected at three times the rate of whites. “The rates of infection that we’ve documented in this study are higher than the rates of many countries in Africa,” said head researcher Dr. Kenneth Mayer.

This is one instance where ignorance is not bliss: Researchers found that of the 88% percent of those surveyed who believed they were HIV negative or did not know their status, 12% were actually positive (three individuals showed signs of advanced HIV).

“People are much more likely to practice safer sex if they know that they’re infected,” said Mayer. “So if you have a lot of people who are assuming they’re not infected or unwilling to deal with it, these are people who are much more likely to transmit HIV to their partners.”