New HIV Infections Down for U.S. Black Women, Still Rising for Young Gay Men


HIV incidence continues to climb for young men who have sex with men (MSM) -- the group with the highest incidence -- showing a 22% increase between 2008 and 2010, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate fell by 21% among African-American women, however, representing the first-ever significant decline.

On December 19, 2012, the CDC released its latest HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report, along with an accompanying fact sheet, describing estimates of HIV incidence among adults and adolescents in the U.S.

The report provides new data for 2010, as well as updated estimates for 2007-2009. Although the overall HIV infection rate has held relatively steady at about 50,000 cases per year since the mid-1990s, there have been some shifts in which populations are most heavily affected.

Key Findings

More research on effective prevention approaches are needed, especially for young gay men of color. Studies have shown that black MSM have significantly higher odds of becoming infected despite not engaging in more high-risk sex or drug use. The CDC implicates higher prevalence (meaning a higher likelihood of encountering partners with HIV), lower rates of HIV testing (resulting in more people who do not know they are positive and are not on antiretroviral treatment), higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases (which facilitate HIV transmission and acquisition), stigma and homophobia, and lack of insurance and limited access to care.

Speaking of the promising decrease in incidence among black women, Kevin Fenton, outgoing director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, told The Root that "a number of factors are beginning to bear fruit," including scaling up efforts to encourage women to get tested. "The data reflect not only our efforts but also that the community is clearly taking the message and taking steps they need to avoid to avoid HIV," Fenton continued. "We're seeing black women taking control."

In a "Dear Colleague" letter and blog post, Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said these findings validate the federal government's "high impact prevention" approach, which aims to direct HIV prevention funding where it can have the greatest impact -- that is, by focusing on the groups at highest risk.



J Prejean, A Hernandez, R Son, et al, CDC. Estimated HIV incidence in the United States, 2007--2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 17(4). December 2012.

Other Sources

CDC. New HIV Infections in the United States. Fact sheet. December 2012.

J Mermin. CDC Releases Data on New Cases of HIV. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Blog Update. December 19, 2012.

J Mermin. Estimates of HIV Incidence in the United States, 2007-2010. CDC e-HAP Direct Updates. December 19, 2012.

J Desmond-Harris. New HIV Infections Down Among Black Women. The Root. December 19. 2012.