21 Jul HIV Epidemic Still Surging Among Young Gay and Bisexual Men
MedicalResearch.com: Interview with:
Anna Satcher Johnson MPH
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Answer: The new analysis confirms historical trends suggesting that we’ve made significant progress in reducing HIV in the U.S. over time – overall and among several key populations, including injection drug users and heterosexuals. Overall, new HIV diagnoses from 2002 to 2011 declined 33 percent. However, these findings underscore continued concerns of a surging HIV epidemic among young gay and bisexual men. We found a significant increase in HIV diagnoses among young men who have sex with men between the ages of 13 and 24.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Answer: No, we were not surprised by the findings because they are in line with what we’ve seen from other analyses – significant progress in reducing HIV in the U.S. overall, especially among injection drug users and heterosexuals, but concerning increases among young gay and bisexual men.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Answer: To build on the progress that we’ve seen, we must focus on those in greatest need – especially gay and bisexual men – and capitalize on new prevention science. Focusing on HIV testing; capitalizing on treatment as prevention to improve health and reduce the risk of transmission; and facilitating access to condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and behavioral interventions are all critical to help gay and bisexual men protect themselves and their partners. Preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men is a top priority for CDC.
Medical Research What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Answer: HIV diagnoses data provide an important, but incomplete, picture of the epidemic – multiple sources are needed to paint the full picture. HIV diagnoses data reflect those who have been newly diagnosed with HIV, but do not tell us when a person was first infected. These data can be influenced by levels of HIV testing, and may not reflect current trends in new HIV infections. Each data source has its own strengths and limitations and should be looked at in combination. National estimates of new HIV infections in the U.S. also suggest long-term progress in reducing new HIV infections, as well as concerning increases among young men who have sex with men.
Johnson A, Hall H, Hu X, Lansky A, Holtgrave DR, Mermin J. Trends in Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States, 2002-2011. JAMA. 2014;312(4):432-434. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8534.