Common risk factors cited in HIV-infected black men

A study of HIV-infected individuals in Jackson, Mississippi, revealed that many young, black men who have sex with men had three risk behaviors in common.

According to findings reported Thursday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unprotected anal intercourse; sex with men age 26 or older; and not getting an annual HIV test were factors in many of these patients.

The report was published to coincide with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7.

“In the US, black MSM (men who have sex with men) account for a disproportionate number of new cases of HIV and AIDS,” the authors of the report state. Moreover, “from 2001 to 2006, the number of HIV/AIDS cases among black MSM aged 13-24 years in 33 states increased 93 percent.”

After noting a rise in HIV infections among young black gay men at a clinic in Jackson, the research team decided to examine HIV risk and testing behaviors by surveying all black males, 16 to 25 years, diagnosed with HIV infection from January 2006 to April 2008.

Of 86 potential participants identified, 40 were ultimately interviewed. Twenty-nine of these subjects were self-reported gay men and became the focus of the study.

Unprotected anal intercourse and sex with men age 26 or older in the year before diagnosis were reported by 69 percent and 55 percent of subjects, respectively. None of the subjects reported injection drug use during this period.

As for HIV testing, 21 percent of subjects reported no testing in the 2 years prior to diagnosis and 17 percent reported having just one test during that period.

“In the US, reducing the toll of HIV/AIDS on young black men who have sex with men will require a combination of strategies, including culturally specific behavioral interventions, expanded testing programs, and comprehensive campaigns to combat stigma,” the report emphasizes.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 5, 2009.

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