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Study finds young Black men have higher HIV rates, despite less unsafe sex
2018-12-04

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A new Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study says that young Black men who have sex with men ( MSM ) are 16 times more likely to have an HIV infection than their white peers—despite more frequent testing for HIV and being less likely to have unsafe sex.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) concluded that, if these rates persist, one out of every two Black MSM will become infected with HIV at some point in their lives, compared to one in five Hispanic MSM and one in 11 white MSM.

"We have known from prior studies that this paradox exists — black young MSM engage in fewer risk behaviors but have a much higher rate of HIV diagnosis," said senior study author Brian Mustanski, professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, in a statement. "Our study illuminates how HIV disparities emerge from complex social and sexual networks and inequalities in access to medical care for those who are HIV-positive.

The study collected data from 1,015 MSM between the ages of 16 and 29 living in the Chicago metropolitan area. Findings included that:

—Black MSM reported the lowest number of sexual partners overall;

—Black MSM tested for HIV more frequently but were more likely to have a detectable HIV viral load if HIV-positive;

—Black MSM were more likely to report not having close relationships with their sexual partners;

—Black MSM were more likely to report hazardous marijuana use, while white MSM were more likely to report high levels of alcohol problems; and

—Black MSM experienced greater levels of stigma, victimization, trauma and childhood sexual abuse.

The study was supported by grant U01DA036939 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.


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