National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Adapted from www.cdc.gov:

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on September 27 to focus on the continuing serious and disproportionate effects of the human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) on gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States. In 2008, an estimated 580,000 MSM were living with HIV infection.

ARCS responded to these  alarming statistics by creating the CHAPS program, which focuses on young MSM of color in southern Westchester and aims to help them avoid HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Learn more about CHAPS on our website and be sure to friend them on Facebook.

Although HIV testing has been recommended at least annually for persons with ongoing risk for exposure to HIV infection, recent data suggest that MSM might benefit from being tested more frequently than once per year. MSM represent approximately 2% of the U.S. population, but in 2009 they accounted for 64% of all new HIV infections (including MSM who were also injection drug users [3% of new infections]). Based on CDC’s 2008 National Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) data, 19% of sexually active MSM were infected with HIV, but 44% of infected MSM were unaware of their infection. Of MSM with undiagnosed HIV infection, 45% had been tested within the previous 12 months, and 29% within the previous 6 months. CDC’s 2010 sexually transmitted disease treatment guidelines already recommend more frequent HIV retesting for MSM who have multiple or anonymous partners, who have sex in conjunction with illicit drug use (particularly methamphetamine use), or whose partners participate in these activities. However, among MSM in NHBS who had been tested for HIV within the past 12 months, the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV among MSM who reported these high-risk behaviors (7%) was similar to that among those who did not (8%).

Based on these findings, sexually active MSM might benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months). CDC is using the 2011 National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day as an opportunity to highlight this information for gay men and their health-care providers. Additional information is available at http:/www.cdc.gov/msmhealth.

CDC supports a range of efforts to reduce HIV infection among MSM. These include HIV prevention services that reduce the risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV, increase diagnosis of HIV infection, and support the linkage of MSM with HIV infection to treatment. Additional information about these efforts is available at http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth. Additional information about National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is available at http://www.cdc.gov/features/ngmhaad.

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