Black gay men with HIV receive less medical care

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Black gay men with HIV are less likely than whites and Hispanics to receive consistent care, which would keep them healthier and less likely to infect others with the virus.

That disparity was reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ahead of ahead of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sunday. It comes just weeks after the federal health agency showed that while HIV has seen dramatic declines among some gay men, black gay men have seen a spike in HIV diagnoses in the last decade, though it has stabilized in the last few years.

Just 38 percent of African Americans got consistent HIV care from 2011-13 compared with about half of whites and Latinos, according to the new research from the CDC. (See graphic below) But even worse for gay black men with HIV: They were less likely to receive consistent medical care than black women, 35 percent to 44 percent, and receiving consistent HIV care was highest among African Americans whose HIV infections were attributable to heterosexual contact, according to the CDC.

“Consistent care matters. It enables people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, and it prevents new infections,” Jonathan Mermin (photo), director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention said in a prepared statement. “And closing this gap in care will be essential if we are to see the narrowing racial divide in HIV diagnoses close completely.”

And with blacks disproportionately impacted by HIV – African Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population but almost 50 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2014 – the CDC is concerned about the disparity in medical care.

“CDC has been working for many years to eliminate the HIV disparities that exist within the black community,” said Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “While we are seeing signs of success, we must continue our focus on prevention strategies that will have the greatest impact on African American communities and the nation overall. A key area of focus is ensuring that people living with HIV are diagnosed early, quickly linked to care and receive consistent care that improves their lives and protects the health of their partners.”

To help, the CDC is crafting a high-impact prevention approach that is funding HIV prevention services that target gay, bisexual and transgender youth of color. The efforts include PrEP and HIV treatment as prevention, along with nearly $277 million in grants over five years.

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