The rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex
with men was 44 times that of other men and 40 times that of women, and primary
and secondary syphilis rates were 46 times that of other men and 71 times that
of women, according to data presented at the 2010 National STD Prevention
Conference in Atlanta.
While the heavy toll of HIV and syphilis among gay
and bisexual men has been long recognized, this analysis shows just how stark
the health disparities are between this and other populations, Kevin
Fenton, MD, director of the CDCs National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral
Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention and an Infectious Disease News
editorial board member, said in a press release. It is clear that we will
not be able to stop the U.S. HIV epidemic until every affected community, along
with health officials nationwide, prioritize the needs of gay and bisexual men
with HIV prevention efforts.
Study results also showed that the range of new HIV
diagnoses among MSM was significantly higher 522 to 989 per 100,000
when compared with 12 per 100,000 other men and 13 per 100,000 women.
Similarly, the range of primary and secondary syphilis
among MSM was 91 to 173 cases per 100,000 as opposed to two per 100,000 other
men and one per 100,000 women.
CDC researchers also found that MSM comprise 2% of the
overall U.S. population aged 13 years and older and 4% of the male population.
They calculated disease rates using 2007 surveillance data on HIV and
primary/secondary syphilis diagnoses and U.S. Census data for the total U.S.
The CDC plans to implement behavior-change programs for
MSM and expand a successful HIV testing initiative to reach a larger portion of
this population. The CDC is also implementing an updated National Syphilis
Elimination Plan in cities with highest rates of disease among MSM and will
release an updated HIV prevention strategic plan within the next year to
support the presidents upcoming National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
There is no single or simple solution for reducing
HIV and syphilis rates among gay and bisexual men, Fenton said. We
need intensified prevention efforts that are as diverse as the gay community
itself. Solutions for young gay and bisexual men are especially critical so
that HIV does not inadvertently become a rite of passage for each new
generation of gay men. - by Melissa Foster