- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2003

About one in 10 men who engage in homosexual activity don't tell their friends or family about it and are a high risk to transmit HIV/AIDS if they contract the virus, the federal government says.
These "non-disclosers" are not more likely than open homosexuals to have HIV/AIDS, but they are less likely to be tested for the virus and more likely to have sexual relations with a woman, said researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As a result, they "are at high risk for transmitting these infections to their male and female sex partners," researchers said in last week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
This may be especially true for young black men because they have a high rate of non-disclosure about their homosexual activities and many have girlfriends.
"AIDS is the leading killer of African-American women ages 25 to 34 and African-American men ages 35 to 44," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said yesterday on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
HIV infections in the United States are gaining ground in the black population. Half of new infections in 2001 occurred among blacks, and the black infection rate 59.6 per 100,000 population is three times higher than the Hispanic infection rate and nine times higher than the white infection rate, the CDC says.
The Bush administration has called for $16 billion in overall HIV/AIDS spending in the United States, and $15 billion, over five years, to fight AIDS globally.
In its study, the CDC wanted to know more about HIV/AIDS risks among men who hide their homosexual activity, since these men also tend to avoid homosexual peer-support groups and AIDS-prevention services.
CDC researchers studied 5,589 men who had sexual relations with men in six cities, including Baltimore, between 1994 and 2000.
The men were asked about how open they were about their homosexual activities, with choices ranging from "not out to anyone" to "out to everyone."
A total of 637 men, or 11 percent, were defined as "non-disclosers."
More than half of these non-disclosers were young, ages 15 to 22.
Among racial groups, minority men were most likely to be non-disclosers: Out of 1,109 black men, 199, or 18 percent, didn't talk about their homosexual activities. In comparison, out of 2,419 white men, 182, or almost 8 percent, were non-disclosers.
The study found that non-disclosers generally had lower HIV rates than disclosers 8 percent compared with 11 percent. However, in both categories, black men had the highest HIV rates 14 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
Many non-disclosing white men and black men also have sexual relations with women: In both groups, 61 percent reported having three or more female sex partners and more than 30 percent report having a woman as their current "main partner."
Non-disclosing men were less likely to have ever been tested for HIV. More efforts should be made to test these men and their sex partners, male and female for HIV and other diseases, the CDC researchers concluded.

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