Gay and bisexual men under 30 make up nearly half of all new HIV diagnoses and they’re the only age group whose rate of infection is getting worse, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
It also showed that the number of gay and bisexual men in Georgia living with HIV jumped 70 percent between 2008-2015, making it the state with the fifth-highest number of gay and bisexual men living with HIV.
The report, released Thursday, looked at the rate of new infections among gay and bisexual men, and the number of them living with HIV across various age groups and regions of the U.S.
Among the more than 235,000 gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. from 2008-2016, 45 percent were age 13-29, 43 percent were age 30-49 and 12 percent were 50 and over.
During 2008-2016, the number of new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men age 13-29 increased by 3 percent annually. Meanwhile, that number decreased by 4 percent among 30-49-year-olds and remained stable among those 50 and over. The number of new diagnoses among those 13-29 was four times that of those 50 and over.
Young people of color continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. The report showed that African-Americans accounted for half of those age 13-29 who were diagnosed with HIV between 2008-2016. Hispanics accounted for a quarter of that group.
During 2008-2015, the number of gay and bisexual men 50 and over living with HIV increased by 11 percent annually, and by year-end 2015 was three times that of gay and bisexual men age 13-29.
“To avert the most infections and improve health outcomes, gay and bisexual males at risk for HIV infection should be tested at least once a year, and, if positive, linked to and retained in HIV medical care to achieve viral suppression,” Dr. Andrew Mitsch (top photo) of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention said in a statement to Project Q.
“Those testing negative should be provided HIV prevention services, including pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP,” he added.
The CDC also looked at the data on a state-by-state and a regional level.
The South is the hardest hit, accounting for almost half of all new HIV diagnoses from 2008-2016. The South was also the region with the largest percentage increase in new HIV diagnoses among those age 13-29 during that period. Nine of 10 states with the highest percentages of gay and bisexual men age 13-29 living with HIV were located in the South.
The report showed Georgia had 17,290 gay and bisexual men living with HIV in 2008. By 2015, that number jumped nearly 70 percent to more than 29,000. That made Georgia the state with the fifth-highest number of gay and bisexual men living with HIV, trailing California, New York, Florida and Texas.
In Georgia, those age 13-29 accounted for 18.2 percent of gay and bisexual men living with HIV; age 30-49 accounted for 49.5 percent and 50 and older accounted for 32.3 percent.
The new CDC report comes as Atlanta's HIV epidemic is seeing increased attention. City of Atlanta officials apologized for the city's response to HIV during a first-of-its-kind public forum and called it a “crisis.” But the city is also struggling to fix a program that provides federal funds to local agencies housing people living with HIV.
Fulton County commissioners have also been criticized for failing to follow through on recommendations to address the county's HIV rate.