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  WINDY CITY TIMES

CDPH report: MSM HIV infections up, but so is testing
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-12-03

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HIV infections are up among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chicago, but so is awareness of status. That is a according to a report the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) released.

The "HIV Behavioral Surveillance Report" compares data gathered in 2011 with 2008 findings, and overall the trend suggests increased testing among MSMs in the city.

"The report's findings are hopeful signs that increased community mobilization, enhanced efforts in expanding HIV testing and linkage-to-care programs are having a positive impact on Chicago's HIV epidemic," said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair in a statement.

HIV prevalence rates among MSMs in 2011 were 20.9 percent, up from 2008, when the rate was 18.1 percent.

Still, the number of those unaware of their HIV status dropped dramatically over those three years. Seventy-six percent of those studied were aware of their HIV-positive status, from 50 percent three years ago.

Percentages of HIV-positive MSMs receiving treatment also jumped drastically. Among African-American MSMs, 84 percent had been linked to HIV care, nearly double the 44 percent reported three years prior. Among Latino MSMs, that number went from 50 percent to 82. The number for white MSMs hit 100 percent, up from 90 percent in 2008.

Overall testing rates increased. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed have been tested for HIV in their lifetime, and 57 percent reported being tested in the last year. African-American youth reported the highest testing rate at 71 percent.

Among youth (defined as 30 and younger), white MSMs reported the highest jump in HIV rates from one percent in 2008 to 10 percent last year. That number for African American youth remained at 28 percent in both reports. Among Latinos, the rates decreased from nine to eight percent.

Among white MSMs overall, the prevalence of HIV grew from approximately 12 to 17 percent over those three years. African-American MSMs grew by three percent to 35 percent in 2011. Little change was shown among Latino MSMs.

The data also showed that prevention efforts primarily reached African-American men. Forty percent reported participating in a prevention program, compared with 12 percent of White men and 22 of Latino men.

The Chicago report tracks HIV data through collected as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Behavioral Surveillance System.

The full report is available here: www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/infectious_disease/STI_HIV_AIDS/MSMReport2012.pdf.


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