Black MSM More Likely To Be HIV Positive Interview with:
Cyprian Wejnert

Center For Disease Control

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Cyprian Wejnert: Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the risk group most severely affected by HIV in the United States, accounting for approximately two-thirds of new infections each year.  Understanding racial and age disparities among MSM is critical to tailor effective prevention efforts. Our study examined data from CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system (NHBS) from 20 U.S. cities. We assessed changes in HIV prevalence, awareness of infection, and risk behavior among MSM, by age and race, from 2008 to 2011, finding that:

o   Among black Men who have sex with men, 30 percent were HIV-infected overall, and 1 in 5 black MSM aged 18-24 were infected with HIV. Compared to 14 percent and 4 percent among white MSM.

o   In all age groups younger than 40 years, black Men who have sex with men were significantly more likely to be HIV-positive compared to all other racial/ethnic groups.

o   Disparities in HIV prevalence between black and white MSM were greatest among the youngest MSM, and increased between 2008 and 2011.

o   Black MSM were less likely to be aware of their infection than their white counterparts (54 vs. 86 percent).

o   Black Men who have sex with men did not report higher levels of condomless sex overall or condomless sex with partners of discordant or unknown HIV status.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Cyprian Wejnert:  Ultimately, the findings indicate that racial disparities are not only present among MSM in nearly every age group, but they may be increasing, especially among younger MSM. These data suggest that prevention efforts focused on African American Men who have sex with men should particularly address the needs of those under the age of 25.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Cyprian Wejnert:  NHBS data are limited to MSM aged 18 and over. However, our finding that 1 in 5 black MSM aged 18-24 are infected with HIV suggests that many black MSM may be being infected with HIV at ages younger than 18. Our data suggest HIV prevention efforts should target young Men who have sex with men. However without data on black MSM younger than 18, we do not know what specific ages would optimize prevention efforts. Future research on black MSM younger than 18 could help inform future prevention efforts. CDC is currently pilot testing a new surveillance system for young MSM aged 13-18 as part of NHBS that will help meet this need.


Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI)

Disparities in HIV by race and age among men who have sex with men, 20 US cities Interview with:Cyprian Wejner (2015). Black MSM More Likely To Be HIV Positive 

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Last Updated on March 5, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD