Money Matters - Simplified

One in five US gays HIV-infected; nearly half don't realize it

In the survey, it has been found that 63 percent of the HIV-positive men aged 18-29 are unaware of their infection, compared with 37 percent of men aged 30 and older

A new U.S. study has found that one in five gay/bisexual men living in 21 major cities in the United States are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them are unaware of it.

The study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that between 2005 and 2008, HIV infection among gay people increased 17 percent.

Alarming CDC study
The alarming novel study, conducted in 21 large U.S. cities, shows the HIV rate among gay men was one in five, and making it more worse was that fact that almost half who carry the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, were unaware they are infected, reports Washington Post.

The study shows that 19 percent of "men who have sex with men" are HIV positive, and 44 percent of those men are unaware of their infection.

Study details
For the study, CDC researchers looked at 8,153 self-identified gay and bisexual men who agreed to undergo HIV testing in 21 U.S. cities.

These men were taking part in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, which looked at prevalence and awareness of HIV.

The study shows that 19 percent of "men who have sex with men" are HIV positive, and 44 percent of those men are unaware of their infection

The findings
Overall, the research team found that 19 percent of gay men are infected with HIV.

The team also found that 28 percent of gay black men were infected with HIV, compared with 18 percent of Hispanic men and 16 percent of white men.

Most HIV-positive gays unaware of their health status
As of the awareness of their infection, Black gay men were least likely to be aware they have the virus.

More precisely, 44 percent of the men who tested positive for HIV were unaware of their infection.

Fifty nine percent of black young, sexually active gay men were unaware of their health status, compared with 46 percent of Hispanic men and 26 percent of white men.

Age, socioeconomic status also play a role
The study also found a link between age and socioeconomic status and HIV among men who have sex with men.

In the survey, it has been found that 63 percent of the HIV-positive men age 18-29 are unaware of their infection, compared with 37 percent of men aged 30 and older.

Likewise, the prevalence of HIV increased as education and income decreased, and awareness of HIV status was higher among those with greater education and income.

"This study's message is clear: HIV exacts a devastating toll on men who have sex with men in America's major cities, and yet far too many of those who are infected don't know it," said Kevin Fenton, director of the agency's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

"We must confront fear. Many men do not get tested and retested because they are afraid of what they might learn," Fenton continued. "Finding out you have HIV is hard, but not knowing is even worse and puts your life and others' lives at risk."

The CDC study findings appear in the Sept. 24 issue of MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.