Around 50 percent of gay and bisexual black men will get the virus that causes AIDS sometime in their lifetime, according to a recent federal report. Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used diagnosis and death data from 2009 to 2013 to estimate the lifetime risk of an HIV infection based on sex, sexual orientation, and state of residence.
According to the report released by the CDC at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Americans have a little over one percent chance of getting an HIV infection in their lifetime. While the rate has been on the decline over the years, researchers found some groups are at a higher risk than others.
“Overall, the estimated lifetime risk of being diagnosed with HIV was 1.05 percent, meaning that approximately 3 million Americans (or one in 99 people) will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime,” the CDC wrote.
Males in general have a much higher risk than females. An estimated one in 62 men will be diagnosed with an HIV infection, while the risk for a woman is just one in 221.
Among African-Americans, the rate of lifetime risk increases. Approximately one in 19 black men, and one in 46 black women, will be infected with HIV over a lifetime.
Since the discovery of HIV more than 30 years ago, it has been most commonly associated with men who have sex with men. Kristen Hess of the CDC said the disease continues to plague gay and bisexual men.
“At current rates, one in six men who have sex with men (MSM) will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, making them 79 times more likely than heterosexual men to be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes,” she reported.
However, the lifetime risk of an HIV infection for black gay men increases dramatically.
Approximately 50 percent of gay and bisexual black men will be diagnosed with HIV sometime in their life. In contrast, gay and bisexual white men have a less than 10 percent chance. According to CDC statistics, Hispanic men who have sex with other men are at a 25 percent risk.
There was no evidence indicating that African Americans engaged in riskier sexual encounters than any other group. Yet, researchers think other factors could be at work, like lack of health care, poverty, and insufficient funding of prevention programs.
In a related Inquisitr report, the CDC also found the rate of new HIV infections is growing among young men between 13 and 29.
The new CDC report also tracked HIV infections by state. Residents in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland had the highest lifetime risk. Washington, D.C., had the highest nationwide with one in thirteen residents. The state with the lowest risk estimate was North Dakota, with one in 670.
While the report finds the HIV risk rates alarming, the CDC says they are estimates and not a definite conclusion. The agency hopes the data will increase conversation about the disease and promote measures to reduce the number of cases.
“The prevention and care strategies we have at our disposal today provide a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and disparities in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now,” CDC official Dr. Jonathan Mermin said in a statement.
An HIV infection spreads person-to-person through sexual contact and while sharing syringes when injecting drugs. It can also be transmitted from mothers to unborn babies through direct blood contact.
In the United States, roughly 40,000 new cases are reported every year and that rate has been steadily declining. According to CDC estimates several years ago, the lifetime risk of an HIV infection for all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, was one in 78. With the recent decline to one in 99, experts believe prevention efforts and increased awareness campaigns are actually working.
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