The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released the findings of its first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis and the results are quite eye-opening.
According to the CDC’s study, gay and bisexual Black men face a “strikingly high risk” of contracting HIV in their lifetime.
The CDC explains: “At current rates, 1 in 2 African American MSM [men who sleep with men] and 1 in 4 Hispanic MSM will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 11 white MSM.”
While the CDC estimates 1 in 99 Americans may contract HIV at some point in their lifetime, people of color are at much higher risks. For African American men, the CDC predicts one in 20 will be infected with the disease (regardless of sexual orientation). For Black women and Hispanic men that number is around one in 48, compared to one in 227 for Hispanic women, one in 132 for white men, and one in 880 for white women.
Although studies have shown Black folk do not engage in riskier sexual behavior than other groups, the CDC concludes the “reasons for this higher lifetime risk include higher prevalence within the community, which poses an increased risk of infection with each sexual encounter; lack of access to healthcare; poverty; and stigma.”
Dr. Eugene McCray, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, called the findings “sobering.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
One promising prevention tool is PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily medication that has been found to reduce the risk of contracting HIV from sexual intercourse (in both men and women) by more than 90 percent when used consistently.