HIV infection rate has declined for all risk groups except for men who have sex with men (MSM), according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Latino gay/bi men in particular are at risk for the virus.
“HIV infection is a persistent health concern in the United States, and men who have sex with men continue to be the most affected population,” said the CDC’s Sonia Singh, whose team analyzed data from the National HIV Surveillance System to determine the prevalence of HIV, as well as the rate of undiagnosed infections overall and among MSM.
Looking at HIV rates among Americans 13 years and older, researchers found a decline of 14.8% from 2008 to 2015. The decrease among white gay/bi men was only 2.7%, while the rate for Latino MSM actually went up 3.1%.
An earlier report indicated infection rates among Latino MSM actually shot up 10%.
Experts cite a lack of education and awareness, limited access to health services and testing, and a language barrier as factors. “[Some organizations] don’t have Spanish-speaking people to take their phone calls, or make sure they’re directed to where they need to go,” Moises Agosto, treatment director at the National Minority AIDS Council, told NewNowNext. “For Latinos who are monolingual… it will be so problematic that they give up.”
In general, HIV rates declined 3% among MSM ages 13 to 24 years and 4.7% among MSM ages 35 to 44 years. But they actually increased by 5.7% among MSM ages 25 to 34 years.
“Although these results are promising, the lack of progress in reducing the incidence among MSM, especially black/African American and Hispanic/Latino MSM, must be urgently addressed,” Singh concluded.
She urged for more routine screening and linked care so those who test positive can quickly begin treatment.