Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Widespread Ignorance Prevails After HIV Testing

A new study published in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that nearly half of Gay Men who have HIV aren't aware of their status.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men concluded that 48 percent of gay and bisexual men had tested positive for HIV but did not know it.

The system is broken, concluded Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
"We need to normalize HIV testing and incorporate testing as a routine part of healthcare screenings. Testing and outreach also needs to become more easily accessible to the public, particularly to those in high risk groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM)."

This sampling of HIV test gay men occurred in Baltimore, LA, Miami, New York City and San Francisco from June 2004 through April 2005. Of the 2,261 gay and bi men sampled who were tested, 1767 had one or more male sexual partners. Of these 1,767, 35 percent were white, 27 percent, hispanic, 25 percent, black, 7 percent multirfacial and 6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander.
Participants were recruited from bars, 30 percent, streat locations, 20 percent, dance clubs, 19 percent, gay stores, 10 percent, gay pride events, 6 percent, social organizations, 5 percents, gyms 5 percents, sex establishments, 3 pecents and parks 1 percent.

Of the 450 HIV infected MSM, 48 percent were unaware of their HIV infections. The authors of the stuy concluded that to decrease HIV transmission, MSM should be encouraged to receive an HIV test at least annually and prevention programs should improve the ways of reaching gay men unaware of their HIV status.

On the prevention end, no news here. The safer sex outreach needs to be expanded and include the realization that gay men need to be educated and reminded about HIV transmission and safer ways to have MSM. No getting around it. Knowing HIV status is important, but prevention is the key to lowering the 40,000 new cases of HIV developing each year.

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