In an unprecedented study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one-half of black, gay/bisexual Americans and one-quarter of Hispanic, gay/bisexual Americans will contract HIV in their lifetimes.
Previous studies have not been broken down by race, and the findings are yet another sobering reminder of the uphill fight to eradicate the virus.
Since 2005, the lifetime risk of contraction for all Americans regardless of race has fallen from 1 in 78 to 1 in 99, but the decline does not equally affect all communities. According to the CDC’s findings, gay, bisexual, black and Hispanic people will continue to be affected at much higher rates.
Setting aside sexual orientation, 1 in 20 black men and 1 in 48 black women are projected to receive a positive HIV diagnosis in their lifetimes. For Hispanic Americans, the numbers reported are 1 in 48 for men, and 1 in 227 for women.
And while white Americans have the lowest statistical odds — an overall lifetime risk of less than one percent — for white gay/bisexual men the numbers jump to a staggering 1 in 11.
Looking at gay/bisexual men regardless of race, the odds raise even more to 1 in 6. For black gay men, the rate goes to nearly half.
The CDC points to stigma surrounding poverty and systemic barriers to healthcare among the black and Hispanic communities that in part account for the increased risks among the groups.
The numbers are based on HIV diagnoses and death rates collected from 2009 to 2013, and work on the assumption that transmission rates remain the same.
But the CDC is quick to note that while the numbers don’t look good, they aren’t “a foregone conclusion.”
“These estimates are a sobering reminder that gay and bisexual men face an unacceptably high risk for HIV—and of the urgent need for action,” said Dr. Eugene McCray, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “If we work to ensure that every American has access to the prevention tools we know work, we can avoid the outcomes projected in this study.”
The CDC’s current arsenal against new contractions is focused on testing, condom use, proper treatment for those who are diagnosed as positive and PrEP, the daily medication shown to curb risk by upwards of 90%.
Head here for more info on PrEP, including information on how to access the drug with limited or no healthcare.