Joint Statement Regarding HIV Prevalence, Urgency For Gay/Bi Men

NEW HIV INCIDENCE ESTIMATES CONFIRM URGENCY TO ADDRESS CRISIS AMONG GAY MEN OF ALL RACES AND ETHNICITIES

Washington, DC – New HIV surveillance data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that while the overall number of new HIV infections has remained fairly stable from 2006–2009, there continues to be cause for great concern about increasing numbers of new infections among gay men.

While the new HIV incidence estimates, published in the Public Library of Science Medicine, show that prevention activities in the United States have successfully held the number of new infections steady, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)i and National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD)ii, remain alarmed about the continued disproportionate impact of HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections among gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities in this country. New estimates indicate that the top most impacted populations include white gay men, Black gay men and Latino gay men, followed closely by Black women.

“An unacceptable increase of HIV incidence among gay men, particularly young Black gay men ages 13-29, requires an honest and critical examination of our prior efforts and a sharpening of our prevention-focused activities among gay men,” remarked Julie Scofield, NASTAD’s Executive Director. “We need to strengthen our communities by breaking down the silos across program and sector and by investing in targeted and innovative programming that promotes the health equity of gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities,” she added.

“Increasing HIV rates, coupled with increasing incidence of syphilis and a frequent neglect of rectal STD infections, underscore that we are not doing enough to prevent all STD infections and reduce their role in HIV acquisition,” said William Smith, NCSD’s Executive Director. “NASTAD and NCSD will continue to work with state and local health departments and other partners to develop and implement effective tools and initiatives to address all STDs among all gay and bisexual men,” he continued.In this peer-reviewed article, the CDC estimates 48,100 new infections occurred in the U.S. in 2009, with gay and bisexual men remaining the population most severely impacted by HIV and the only population in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the 1990s. New infections among gay men of all races and ethnicities continue to increase as a proportion of all new infections, with those among young Black gay men ages 13-29 increasing by 48 percent since 2006. This new HIV surveillance data closely follows data released by CDC last month that showed a growing resistance of gonorrhea to antimicrobials, particularly in men who have sex with men (MSM). Gonorrhea is an STD that can facilitate HIV transmission.

In June 2010, NASTAD and NCSD released a Statement of Urgency expressing concern regarding the HIV and STD crises among gay men and other MSM of all races and ethnicities in the United States. Pursuant to the recommendations made in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (the Strategy), the joint statement calls for greater investment (financial and human) and leadership to address the epidemic among gay men. Given CDC’s decision to cut $20 million from core HIV prevention funding, our federal partners must continue to work with state and local health departments to ensure that all existing resources are leveraged to improve HIV prevention and care and treatment.

NASTAD and NCSD, with support from MAC AIDS Fund, will soon launch a series of targeted activities within HIV and STD programs that will examine and address stigma in public health practice. These efforts will aim to increase comprehensive and appropriate access to prevention, care and supportive services for young Black and Latino gay men, particularly those at-risk for STD transmission. Additionally, these efforts will target social and sexual networks to promote positive sexual health messages and reduce stigma. NASTAD and NCSD will work with their respective members to establish and promote evidence-based practices and tools to educate state and local health departments, service providers and other key community stakeholders about the sexual health of gay men.
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i- Founded in 1992, NASTAD is a nonprofit national association of state and territorial health department HIV/AIDS program directors who have programmatic responsibility for administering HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis health care, prevention, education, and supportive services programs funded by state and federal governments. For more information, visit www.NASTAD.org.

ii- The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) is a partnership of public health professionals dedicated to the prevention of STDs. NCSD provides dynamic leadership that strengthens STD Programs by advocating for effective policies, strategies, and sufficient resources and by increasing awareness of their medical and social impact. For more information, visit www.NCSDDC.org.