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HIV infection rates up for youth, men who have sex with men
by Erica Demarest, Windy City Times

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While national HIV infection rates remain steady, those among young people and men who have sex with men are on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said. People of color make up a disproportionate number of the new cases.

On Feb. 28, the CDC released its 2011 HIV Surveillance Report, which tracked infection and prevalence rates across the nation.

"From 2008-2011, the annual estimated number and rate of diagnoses of HIV infection among Americans remained stable in the U.S.," the report said. "Yet in 2011, an estimated 49,273 Americans were diagnosed with HIV—far too many."

According to the CDC, men who have sex with men (MSM) make up just two percent of the U.S. population (various reports dispute this number and put it at more than 4 percent). But a whopping 62 percent of all HIV diagnoses can be attributed to male-to-male sexual contact, the report said.

Thirty-eight percent of men infected with HIV through MSM contact in 2011 were Black, 23.5 percent Latino and 33.6 percent white, the CDC said.

In general, men were more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than women. Males accounted for 79 percent of all diagnoses in 2011, and rates for women were on the decline.

From 2008 to 2011, the rates of diagnoses increased for people aged 20-29. For those in the 30-49 or 55-64 range, rates decreased. Others remained stable.

The highest rates of new infection by age can be found in people ranging from 20 to 24. Right behind them are those in the 25-29 group.

The 2011 report marks the first time the CDC tracked HIV and AIDS in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, major American cities and six U.S. territories.

"Now we have a complete picture of diagnosed HIV infection in the U.S.," the CDC explained in a statement. "Potential trends in HIV diagnoses for the U.S. can be examined."

Rates of new HIV infections were highest in the South in 2011. Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York were the only northern states with equally high numbers.

ThinkProgress, a progressive blog owned by the Center for American Progress, pointed out that many of the most heavily infected states—such as Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana—don't teach comprehensive sex education.

And schools in those states aren't required to provide medically sound HIV information, ThinkProgress said.

States with the largest African-American populations also ranked highly. According to the CDC, African-Americans represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for 47 percent of new HIV diagnoses.

Latinos also faced high numbers: At just 16 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 21 percent of HIV diagnoses.

In Illinois, about 2,100 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2011. The rate of infection per 100,000 people is 16.6, which is slightly larger than the national average of 15.8.

Illinois ranks 14th in infection rate after 12 other states and the District of Columbia, which featured the largest estimated rate: 155.6 infections per 100,000 people.

Of those living with HIV in Illinois (as opposed to those who are newly diagnosed), about 15,400 were Black; 9,900 were white; and 5,000 were Latino by the end of 2010—the most recent year for which CDC had data.

In all, roughly 32,000 people were living with HIV in Illinois by the end of 2010.

According to the CDC, about 28,000 of those people could be found in the Chicagoland area (which includes the Gary and Lake divisions).

For new infections in 2011, Chicago ranked 27th in a list of 103 American cities that includes Baltimore, Dallas, Miami, Buffalo and Phoenix.

Chicago reported an estimated 1,851 new cases of HIV in 2011. That's a rate of 19.5 infections per 100,000 people.

"Surveillance data shows that HIV remains a significant threat," the CDC said in its report.

At the end of 2010, there were an estimated 872,990 people across U.S. living with diagnosed HIV.

To read the report, peruse graphs or see how Illinois and Chicago stack up, visit: .

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