Gay, bi men make up 70 percent of new HIV infections

Progress in HIV prevention has stalled after years of dramatic declines in new infections, with those in the South continuing to be particularly vulnerable, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Also, while the rate of new HIV infections has stabilized among gay and bisexual men overall, that group continues to account for 70 percent of all new infections.

Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention, said it’s time to embrace President Trump’s national plan to end HIV/AIDS in the next 10 years. Four metro Atlanta counties with high HIV rates are being targeted as part of the plan.

“We have an historic opportunity to improve the precision of prevention,” said Mermin (top photo) in a press release. “This infusion of resources will finally relegate America’s HIV epidemic to the pages of history.”

The CDC report, released Feb. 27, provides data on HIV trends in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016. It showed that after five years of substantial declines, the number of new HIV infections started to level off in 2013 at about 39,000 infections per year.

The rate of new infections among gay and bisexual men varied widely depending on race/ethnicity. Infections decreased by 16 percent among white gay and bisexual men, remained stable among black gay and bisexual men, and increased 30 percent among Latino gay and bisexual men.

Infections decreased by 30 percent for black gay and bisexual males ages 13 to 24, and remained stable among Latino gay and bisexual males in the same age group. But infections soared by 65 percent among both black and Latino gay and bisexual men ages 25 to 34.

The CDC said the dramatic declines in HIV infections have stalled because effective HIV prevention and treatment aren’t reaching those who could most benefit from them. The most vulnerable populations continue to be those in rural areas and in the South, as well as African-Americans and Latinos, according to the CDC.

Trump included $291 million in his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal for his plan to end HIV in the U.S. by 2030. But HIV/AIDS activists criticized him for cutting funds dedicated to the global effort to end HIV, according to the Associated Press.

The goal of Trump’s plan is to reduce new HIV infections nationwide by 75 percent in five years and by at least 90 percent in 10 years.

The plan involves targeting seven states and an additional 48 counties with the highest rates of new infections. Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett are the Georgia counties included on that list.

Eugene McCray, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said that the plan is solid.

“After a decades-long struggle, the path to eliminate America’s HIV epidemic is clear,” said McCray in a press release. “Expanding efforts across the country will close gaps, overcome threats, and turn around troublesome trends.”