According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), despite overall progress in reducing new infections among gay and bisexual men, HIV inequities persist.

For example, from 2010–2019, the number of new HIV infections remained relatively stable among Black (from 9,000 to 8,900) and Hispanic/Latino (from 6,800 to 7,900) gay and bisexual men. However, it declined among white gay and bisexual men (from 7,500 to 5,100).

The data comes from the CDC’s new Vital Signs report, which shows Black and Latino gay and bisexual men were less likely to receive an HIV diagnosis, be virally suppressed, or use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, compared with their white counterparts.

“Unequal reach of HIV prevention and treatment, higher levels of HIV in some communities, and systemic inequities fuel these troubling trends,” the CDC said.

In 2019, an estimated 83% of Black and 80% of Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men with HIV were diagnosed, compared with 90% of white gay and bisexual men. An estimated 62% of Black and 67% of Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men with diagnosed HIV were virally suppressed, compared with 74% of white gay and bisexual men.

The report also includes the most recent data on PrEP use among gay and bisexual men from 2017, showing that just 27% of Black and 31% of Hispanic/Latino men were using PrEP, compared with 42% of white men.

While the prep data collected is not nationally representative, the PrEP uses data from gay and bisexual men in 23 cities, where more than half of all people with HIV reside in large urban areas.

HIV-related stigma — negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV — may also contribute to these disparities, wrote the CDC.

For example, in an analysis of data from the Medical Monitoring Project — a nationally representative survey of people diagnosed with HIV — Black and Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men were more likely to report experiencing HIV-related stigma than white gay and bisexual men.

“With effective prevention and treatment tools at our disposal, the nation has a decades-in-the-making opportunity to end the domestic HIV epidemic and erase glaring disparities in HIV prevention and care,” the agency wrote.

They added they’re working with partners through the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative to scale up key, science-based HIV treatment and prevention strategies in innovative ways that reach populations equitably.”

The CDC aims to reduce HIV infections by 90% by 2030.

“Throughout my career, I have witnessed a transformation for those living with and at risk for HIV,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH.

“We have the scientific tools to end the HIV epidemic. However, to achieve this end we must acknowledge that inequities in access to care continue to exist and are an injustice. We must address the root causes of these ongoing disparities and make proven HIV prevention and treatment intervention available to all,” she said.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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