HIV infection is on the rise among young men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City, according to preliminary data from the Health Department. New HIV diagnoses among MSM under age 30 have increased by 33% during the past six years, the agency reported today, from 374 in 2001 to almost 500 in 2006.
New diagnoses have doubled among MSM ages 13 to19, while declining by 22% among older MSM. The under-30 group now accounts for 44% of all new diagnoses among MSM in New York City, up from 31% in 2001.
?We are very concerned about the increase in HIV among young men who have sex with men,? said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. ?We?re headed in the wrong direction. Unless young men reduce the number of partners they have, and protect themselves and their partners by using condoms more consistently, we will face another wave of suffering and death from HIV and AIDS.?
Other local leaders in the fight against AIDS voiced similar concern.
Blacks and Hispanics still bear a disproportionate share of New York City?s HIV burden. Among all MSM, blacks received twice as many HIV diagnoses as whites in 2006 (232 versus 101), and Hispanics received 55% more than whites (157 versus 101). The disparity is even more striking among adolescents; more than 90% of the MSM under age 20 diagnosed with HIV in 2006 were black or Hispanic (81 out of 87).
Every borough except Staten Island has seen HIV increase among MSM under 30 since 2001. The largest increases occurred in Queens (49%) and Manhattan (57%). The increase in Manhattan was concentrated in East and Central Harlem (up 115%, from 26 to 56), and in the Chelsea and Clinton areas (up 56%, from 25 to 39).
To focus on more recent trends in HIV infection, this analysis excluded MSM who were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time, generally indicating that the infection has progressed for many years. In 2006, 20% of MSM diagnosed with HIV received a concurrent diagnosis of AIDS (285 men), meaning that they had missed opportunities for care to stay healthy and may have unknowingly spread HIV to others.
The new HIV data parallel a recent Health Department report (www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2007/pr054-07.shtml) showing a sharp increase in the number of syphilis cases among MSM in New York City during the first quarter of 2007. The syphilis increase has affected both younger and older MSM, and half of those newly diagnosed with syphilis in New York City also report being infected with HIV. Syphilis and HIV are a dangerous combination, because syphilis causes genital sores (making HIV easier to spread) and HIV lowers immunity (which can make syphilis harder to treat).
What Are the Health Department and Community Organizations Doing to Combat HIV in New York City?
The Health Department funds an array of programs to educate New Yorkers about how to protect themselves from HIV and other STDs. Efforts to prevent infection, and support those who become infected, are under way in all five boroughs.