A surprising number of gay and bisexual men believe they’re HIV negative when they’re actually not. This from a new study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. According to this data, more men are unknowingly harboring the HIV virus than are aware of it – significantly more.
The Impact of HIV Virus Infection: Is More Testing Needed?
Researchers used data from 21 cities and metropolitan areas of the U.S. to look at the health impact of HIV on gay and bisexual men. Almost 20% of the men living in these cities were positive for the HIV virus infection, although 44% of them don’t know it.
Younger men (under the age of 30) and black men were the least likely to be aware that they were positive for the HIV virus. They also found that HIV virus infection rates decreased the more educated and financially secure a gay or bisexual man was. One bright note. This rate has fallen for heterosexual males and I.V. drug users.
Where was the HIV virus infection rate the highest? Baltimore, Maryland ranked number one – with 38% of gay and bisexual men testing positive for the virus – while rates were lowest in Atlanta where only six out of a hundred gay and bisexual men were HIV positive. Another surprising statistic emerged from this study. HIV virus infection was the most common cause of death in black women in the mid-twenties to early-thirties age range.
The Impact of HIV on Gay Men
Unfortunately, a significant portion of the gay male population is positive for the HIV virus without being aware of it. This is particularly disturbing in light of another San Francisco study, which showed that half of all gay men in San Francisco who had unprotected anal intercourse had it with a partner with unknown HIV status.
More effort must be made to reduce the rate of HIV virus infection among men by encouraging gay and bisexual men to get HIV testing every six months. Not only would this reduce the spread of HIV virus infection, but it would allow them to get early treatment, which would improve their prognosis. Studies show that early treatment of HIV infection improves long-term outcome.
The Impact of HIV Virus Infection: The Bottom Line?
Too many gay and bisexual men are unaware of their HIV status, which contributes to spread of this destructive virus. Hopefully, efforts will be made to create greater awareness among this high-risk population of men.
Medscape.com. “Nearly Half of Infected US Gay and Bisexual Men Unaware They Have HIV”