ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) make up 2 percent of the U.S. population but are the group most definitively affected by HIV, with 63 percent of those newly infected by HIV representing this group.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly “Morbidity and Mortality” report shows that among persons newly infected with HIV in 2010, 63 percent were men who have sex with other men. Among Americans living with HIV, 52 percent were MSM – and a significant number of men with HIV are not receiving treatment.
“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2 percent of the United States population, yet are the risk group most affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV),” reads the Sept. 26 CDC report. “Most gay and bisexual men acquire HIV through anal sex, which is the riskiest type of sex for getting or transmitting HIV.
“Having more sex partners compared to other men means gay and bisexual men have more opportunities to have sex with someone who can transmit HIV or another STD. Similarly, among gay men, those who have more partners are more likely to acquire HIV.”
Just one in two gay or bisexual men who have been diagnosed with HIV receives treatment for the virus, and only 42 percent had achieved viral suppression.
Among the 416,730 MSM living with diagnosed HIV in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 42 percent achieved viral suppression at their most recent test, according to the CDC.
Of the 10,093 MSM with the HIV infection diagnosed during 2010, 77.5 (7,826) percent were linked to care within three months after diagnosis. In regards to race and ethnicity, African-American MSM had the lowest percentage of linkage to care (71.6 percent), followed by Hispanic/Latino (80.3 percent) and white MSM at 82.9 percent receiving care.
“It’s unacceptable that treatment, one of our most powerful tools for protecting people’s health and preventing new HIV infections, is reaching only a fraction of gay men who need it,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a release. “A top prevention priority at CDC is making sure every gay man with HIV knows his status and receives ongoing medical care—otherwise, we will never tackle the HIV epidemic in the country.”
The CDC noted its aim to “direct attention to the continuing and disproportionate impact of human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) on gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States.”
A CDC report released in 2013 found that 62 percent of American men who self-reported being HIV-positive said they had unprotected anal sex with a male partner in the last 12 months. In 2011, men who had sex with men accounted for at least half of persons diagnosed with HIV in all but two states. Anal sex is cited by the CDC as having the highest-risk practice for HIV infection.
“High HIV prevalence, lack of awareness of HIV-positive status, and unprotected anal sex” between gay, bisexual and other men are cited by the CDC as contributing to continued new infections among this population.