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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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CDC: Young African-American Men Get Most HIV

HIV Hits 15 Times More African-American Women, 6 Times More African-American Men Than Whites
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 11, 2008 -- HIV is striking African-Americans with "alarming" ferocity, according to a new CDC report.

Just last month, the CDC reported that the overall U.S. HIV epidemic was much worse than we'd thought.

Now the CDC points to groups for whom the HIV epidemic is vastly worse:

  • Young (aged 13-29) black men who have sex with men get HIV more often than any other age/racial group.
  • African-American women are 15 times more likely to get HIV than are white women.
  • African-American men are six times more likely to get HIV than are white men.
  • Hispanic women are four times more likely to get HIV than are white non-Hispanic women.
  • Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to get HIV than are white non-Hispanic men.
  • Among Hispanics, men get 76% of new HIV infections.
  • African-Americans get nearly half of all new HIV infections in the U.S.
  • Men who have sex with men get more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S.
  • Among white gay/bisexual men, those aged 30-39 and 40-49 get the most new HIV infections.

"The number of new HIV infections among young black men who have sex with men is alarming," Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, director of the CDC's division of HIV/AIDS, said at a news conference held to announce the findings.

No less alarming is the astonishingly heavy impact of HIV on African-American women, says Richard Wolitski, PhD, acting director of the CDC's division of HIV/AIDS prevention.

"A range of issues contributes to disproportionate HIV risk for African-Americans, such as poverty, stigma, lack of access to health care, and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases," Wolitski said at the news conference. "Black women face additional challenges such as power imbalances in sexual relationships with men. This may affect their ability to protect themselves by measures such as using condoms."

Particularly galling was the finding of high rates of new HIV infections in older gay/bisexual men. Gay men were the first Americans to be struck by HIV and AIDS. Massive behavior change in this population slowed the AIDS epidemic in the years before effective treatment was available.

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