Meeting News CoveragePerspective

More MSM with HIV aware of their infections

ATLANTA — Data presented here suggest that HIV-positive men who have sex with men are increasingly aware of their infections.

“We found that the proportion of MSM testing positive as part of our study who were already aware of their infection increased from 2008 to 2011,” Cyprian Wejnert, PhD, of the CDC, said during a presentation at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. “We also found that the proportion of men infected remained relatively steady. This suggests that something other than a change of prevalence might be at play among this population, such as success in our efforts to increase HIV testing or reduce the stigma. This warrants further research.”

Wejnert and colleagues examined data from 20 cities that participated in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System in 2008 and 2011. In 2008, 7,847 MSM were tested for HIV and 19% were positive. In 2011, 8,423 men were tested for HIV and 18% were positive.

Among the men who tested positive in 2011, 66% were aware of their infection compared with 56% in 2008 (P<.001). MSM aged younger than 25 years saw the greatest increase in HIV awareness: 49% in 2011 were aware of their infection vs. 31% in 2008. MSM aged at least 40 years, however, saw the least increase in HIV awareness: 76% of men in 2011 were aware of their infection vs. 69% in 2008.

In both years, HIV prevalence and awareness increased with age, but HIV prevalence did not change from 2008 to 2011 in any age group. HIV prevalence was highest among blacks in both years. Awareness increased in all racial groups but was lowest among blacks in both years.

“More than half of all new HIV infections are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infections,” Wejnert said. “It’s important for us to expand our testing efforts and to eliminate disparities and dramatically reduce HIV incidence.”

For more information:

Wejnert C. #90. Presented at: 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections; March 3-6, 2013; Atlanta.

Disclosure: Wejnert reports no relevant financial disclosures.

ATLANTA — Data presented here suggest that HIV-positive men who have sex with men are increasingly aware of their infections.

“We found that the proportion of MSM testing positive as part of our study who were already aware of their infection increased from 2008 to 2011,” Cyprian Wejnert, PhD, of the CDC, said during a presentation at the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. “We also found that the proportion of men infected remained relatively steady. This suggests that something other than a change of prevalence might be at play among this population, such as success in our efforts to increase HIV testing or reduce the stigma. This warrants further research.”

Wejnert and colleagues examined data from 20 cities that participated in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System in 2008 and 2011. In 2008, 7,847 MSM were tested for HIV and 19% were positive. In 2011, 8,423 men were tested for HIV and 18% were positive.

Among the men who tested positive in 2011, 66% were aware of their infection compared with 56% in 2008 (P<.001). MSM aged younger than 25 years saw the greatest increase in HIV awareness: 49% in 2011 were aware of their infection vs. 31% in 2008. MSM aged at least 40 years, however, saw the least increase in HIV awareness: 76% of men in 2011 were aware of their infection vs. 69% in 2008.

In both years, HIV prevalence and awareness increased with age, but HIV prevalence did not change from 2008 to 2011 in any age group. HIV prevalence was highest among blacks in both years. Awareness increased in all racial groups but was lowest among blacks in both years.

“More than half of all new HIV infections are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infections,” Wejnert said. “It’s important for us to expand our testing efforts and to eliminate disparities and dramatically reduce HIV incidence.”

For more information:

Wejnert C. #90. Presented at: 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections; March 3-6, 2013; Atlanta.

Disclosure: Wejnert reports no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective
    Carlos del Rio

    Carlos del Rio

    This study shows that HIV prevalence among MSM is stable, but at unacceptably high levels: 19% in 2008 and 18% in 2011.  It emphasizes the fact that we’re not making much of headway in this population. The good news is that more MSM across all age groups are aware of their infections. At the same time, we also know from other CDC studies that the epidemic is growing most among young, black MSM. We need to devote more efforts toward young, black MSM and make this population a primary focus in our fight against the disease.

    • Carlos del Rio, MD
    • Hubert Professor and chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

    Disclosures: Dr. del Rio has financial relationships with Gilead and Pfizer.

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