HIV Risk Highest in Southern Cities for Gay, Bisexual Men

A map documenting HIV rates for gay and bisexual men has revealed they are most at risk for becoming infected in multiple southern cities, according to a study being presented today by Emory University researchers.

The south is home to 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest HIV prevalence among gay and bisexual men, according to the analysis released today.

The cities with the highest rates included Columbia, South Carolina, El Paso, Texas, and Jackson, Mississippi, according to the study. In these cities, more than 25 percent of men who have sex with men (MSM) had been diagnosed with HIV.

Gay and bisexual men overall are more than 57 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than other men in the U.S., the authors said.

“Where HIV is most a problem are places that are failing gay men,” said George Ayala, executive director of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, a leading advocacy group that was not involved in the report.

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PHOTO: New HIV Diagnoses Among Gay and Bisexual Men, 2013

Where health systems fail, according to Ayala, is in the process of identifying people who have HIV and immediately linking them with care. Gay and bisexual men may be more likely to face additional barriers such as poverty and stigma, he said.

Because federal funding for HIV prevention gets directed to where the disease hits hardest, knowing where HIV is most concentrated may enable public health agencies and local organizations to tweak how they allocate resources at the local level, the authors suggest.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes the prevalence of HIV among different races and age groups, it reports only the raw number of HIV cases among MSM. Emory professors Eli Rosenberg and Jeremy Grey used other national surveys, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, to estimate where MSM were distributed across the country.

Estimates of MSM by race are also not available, though the CDC estimated in February that half of black MSM and a quarter of Latino MSM will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

“For Latino and black men, these issues are compounded in many ways,” Ayala said. “Things like unemployment and racism … really impact a person’s ability to take care of themselves.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read More at ABC News

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