- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2014

The nation’s HIV rate has fallen by a third in the last decade, federal researchers said in a new report released in advance of this week’s upcoming AIDS conference in Australia.

While many population groups shared in this welcome decline in new HIV cases, one group — young gay or bisexual men — saw a 133 percent increase over the period.

These disparities in HIV rates among young gay and bisexual men “present prevention challenges and warrant expanded efforts,” wrote Anna Satcher Johnson, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and her study colleagues in the July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The journal issue is dedicated to HIV/AIDS in light of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which runs July 20-25 in Melbourne, Australia.

The CDC report said that in 2002, there were 24 new cases of HIV per 100,000 population. By the end of 2011, this diagnosis rate fell to 16 cases per 100,000 population, a 33 percent drop.

Over that decade, some 500,000 people contracted HIV in the United States.

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In 2011, some 41,720 new HIV cases were reported in the U.S., with 62 percent (26,033 cases) occurring among men who have sex with men the report’s data showed.

Among men who have sex with men, age played a role in HIV acquisition: Men in the 35-44 age group saw a significant 45 percent decline in cases between 2002 and 2011.

However, case rates rose among men aged 13-24, 45-54, and 55 and older. The most dramatic increase was seen in men 13-24 — in 2002, these teens and young men reported fewer than 3,000 HIV cases, but in 2011, they reported 6,919 cases, a 133 percent increase.

The men who have sex with men age group with the highest number of cases in 2011 was the 25-34 age group. The number of their reported new cases in this age group — 7,929 — was virtually unchanged from 2002.

Other highlights of the HIV new-diagnosis report in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

⦁ HIV cases reported by women dropped by almost half, from 15,705 in 2002 to 8,740 in 2011.

⦁ By race and ethnicity, blacks continued to have the highest rate in 2011 (62.6 cases per 100,000 population), although this was 37 percent lower than in 2002. For whites and Hispanics, the 2011 rates were 6.9 cases and 22 cases per 100,000, respectively. Both these groups saw a decline of 30 percent or more since 2002.

⦁ Regarding HIV acquired through heterosexual contact, the number of new cases for men fell from 5,980 in 2002 to 3,910 in 2011. For women, the cases dropped from 11,695 in 2002 to 7,507 in 2011.

⦁ Regarding injection drug use, new HIV cases among men plummeted from 6,004 in 2002 to 1,795 in 2011; for women, it fell from 3,892 in 2002 to 1,218 in 2011.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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