imageDespite a “banner year” for HIV prevention research, men who have sex with men still face this startling reality: They continue to fuel HIV infections. Nice to know for National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The national awareness effort – Tuesday, Sept. 27 marks the official observance – is the work of the National Association for People with AIDS. But the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is weighing in, too, thanks to stats showing that although men who have sex with men represent a slim 2 percent of the U.S. population the group accounts for 64 percent of new HIV infections.

Need more? Half of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV are men who have sex with men.

So to mark National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the CDC wants you to take five actions:

Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, check here, text your zip code to Know IT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

If you are living with HIV, make sure you get life-extending care and treatment and learn how to prevent transmission to others.

Find out about HIV/AIDS and other health issues that affect gay men.

Speak out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

Donate time and/or money to HIV/AIDS organizations.

imageAtlanta is a hotbed of both HIV cases and research. The city ranks No. 8 in the U.S. for HIV cases and half of HIV-positive men in Atlanta don’t know their status. No surprise, then, that the CDC hosted its National HIV Prevention Conference here last month.

Among the highlights was the launch of “Testing Makes Us Stronger,” a new campaign targeting HIV testing among black men who have sex with men.

“While significant challenges remain, this has been a banner year for HIV prevention research,” Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, says in a prepared statement about the conference.

“After 30 years of HIV, there are more prevention tools to help combat the epidemic than ever before, which gives us hope that we can further drive down HIV infections in this country. This conference is one major step in a renewed, national drive to get the most out of our HIV prevention efforts and save as many lives as possible,” he adds.

Those five actions? No better day than today.