New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that while the number of HIV infections has dropped overall, it’s still climbing precipitously for young men who have sex with men.
The number of new infections fell from 45,700 in 2008 to 37,600 in 2014, marking an 18% decline: For heterosexuals, that drop is 36%, and for intravenous drug-users, it’s down 56%. Experts at the agency credit public education about testing and antiviral medications, as well as needle-exchange programs and PrEP.
Infections for gay and bisexual men has actually leveled off overall—there was only a 1% increase reported—but among those ages 25 to 34, diagnoses shot up 35%, from 7,200 to 9,700.
Half of those infections were in Southern states, which only make up only 37% of the American population. A possible reason: The abstinence-only sex education offered in most Southern states, coupled with greater levels of stigma against homosexuality. (Louisiana, North Carolina and Mississippi were among the top five states for STDs last year.)
Diagnoses among African -American men who have sex with men increased 22% in the six-year-period, but leveled off in recent years—with an increase of only 1% between 2010 and 2014.
Among Latino gay and bi men, the rate rose by 20% from 2008 to 2014, lower than the average but still of concern. The CDC website reports that if current trends continue, 1 in 4 will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. For black gay/bi men that statistic is 1 in 2, and for white men who have sex with men, it’s 1 in 11.
Only 35 states and the District of Columbia report HIV rates to the CDC.