Troubling Trend in HIV/AIDS Diagnoses
HIV Diagnosis Statistics Up Sharply In Young Men Who Have Sex With Men, Says CDC
'Sero-Sorting' Risk continued...
Some men, especially younger men, have "begun to shift from using condoms consistently as their primary risk-reduction strategy to sero-sorting," says Wolitski. He explains that while sero-sorting works theoretically in a monogamous relationship, it's risky in the real world because some men may be HIV positive and not know it.
"Most men who have sex with men have been tested at least once before," says Wolitski. He notes that in a 2005 CDC study conducted in five U.S. cities, 84% of the men who were HIV positive and didn't know it had been tested at least once before, but 58% hadn't had an HIV test in the past year.
"CDC recommends that all sexually active men who have sex with men be tested for HIV on at least an annual basis, and we recommend that [men who have sex with men] who are engaging in risky sexually practices be tested more frequently," says Wolitski.
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, notes the CDC, which has posted a list of HIV testing sites online.
"It's not the case that men who have sex with men no longer care about getting HIV or are intentionally seeking HIV infection," says Wolitski. "The vast majority of men who have sex with men still are actively taking steps to avoid contracting HIV, and we know that HIV prevention interventions continue to be effective for this population."
HIV prevention messages still work, but it can be hard to reach males as young as 13, says Wolitski, who sees the Internet as one potential way to get HIV prevention messages to young men.
Growing up decades after HIV/AIDS started may also be a factor.
"There seem to be some additional challenges in trying to introduce regular condom use among younger men, perhaps because they haven't had the experience of seeing the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the earlier years of the epidemic," says Wolitski.