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HIV rates hold steady nationally but African American, LGBT communities see spike

The number of new reported cases of HIV in the U.S. from 2006 through 2009 remained stable, says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report issued Wednesday. But the data also shows an “alarming increase among young, black gay and bisexual men” that requires “urgent action.” #

According to the CDC, evidence from its national HIV incidence surveillance shows that the annual number of new HIV infections in the United States has been relatively stable, with approximately 50,000 new infections each year between 2006 and 2009. The national HIV incidence surveillance is based on data from 16 states, including Florida. #

Florida’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS reported that through 2010 (.pdf) the total number of people living with HIV and AIDS in the state increased to about 98,000. The report also shows that through 2006 HIV incidence was by far highest among black men who have sex with men. The state Department of Health defines HIV incidence as the “number or proportion of new HIV infections within a specific population during a defined time period” #

The CDC surveillance data show that “HIV infections increased among young men who have sex with men (MSM) between 2006 and 2009, driven by alarming increases among young, black MSM – the only subpopulation to experience a sustained increase during the time period.” #

“While we’re encouraged that prevention efforts have helped avoid overall increases in HIV infections in the United States, and have significantly reduced new infections from the peak in the mid-1980s, we have plateaued at an unacceptably high level,” said Kevin Fenton, the director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. #

The National Minority AIDS Council said Wednesday that this stable rate of HIV infection shows “that more must be done to bring an end to this devastating epidemic.” #

“We must do better at targeting our resources to those communities with the heaviest burden of HIV, specifically MSM and communities of color, or risk losing control of this epidemic,” said Daniel Montoya, deputy executive director of the Minority AIDS Council, in the press release. #

Montoya pointed out that “for the first time, in 2009, the number of infections among Latino MSM was higher than that of African American women.” #

In a statement issued Wednesday, Carl Schmid — deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute based in Tampa and Washington, D.C. — said that the increase of new HIV infections “among gay men and other men who have sex with men, particularly among black gay men, is further evidence that our Nation’s commitment to HIV prevention must be heightened.” #

Both organizations highlighted the fact that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for a targeted approach to funding, and called on Congress to support funding for HIV prevention programs. #

The CDC data comes just a week after National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors released an update on the country’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program wait lists. The numbers show that, as of July 28(.pdf), almost 3,700 people are now on Florida’s waiting list, the longest such list in the U.S. #

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