New HIV Cases Increasing Among Young MSM in New York City Despite Drop in Overall New Cases, New York Times Reports
The number of new HIV cases among men younger than age 30 who have sex with men in New York City has increased since 2003 despite a decrease in the number of overall new cases and AIDS-related deaths, the New York Times reports.
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the number of annual new HIV diagnoses increased by 34% among black and Hispanic MSM between 2001 and 2006 and increased by 32% among all MSM younger than age 30. There were 100 new HIV cases among young white MSM in New York City in 2006, compared with 228 new cases among young black MSM and 165 cases among young Hispanic MSM. New HIV diagnoses among MSM older than age 30 have decreased by 22% during the same time period, according to the Times.
According to the Times, the increase in new HIV cases among young MSM in New York City comes as federal health authorities have said that the number of HIV cases nationwide could be higher than previously thought because of underreporting. Advocates and health professionals have said the increase in new HIV cases could signal a new epidemic.
Health officials have attributed the increase in part to:
- An increase in drug use among younger MSM, which can lead to risky sexual behavior;
- A sense of optimism among younger people that HIV/AIDS is easily treated; and
- An increasing stigma among MSM about being HIV-positive.
New York health officials have acknowledged that their efforts to prevent HIV -- including a condom distribution program, education programs at churches and other venues, and increased availability of HIV tests -- are falling short.
Health officials also have expressed concern about an increased number of patients who receive concurrent diagnoses of both HIV and AIDS. According to some policymakers, the increase in HIV/AIDS cases could be attributed to more aggressive HIV testing. However, some experts have said the actual number of cases could be higher because 25% of people living with HIV do not know they have the virus. According to the Times, New York City has the highest number of AIDS cases nationwide at 100,000 and has one of the highest HIV incidences (Kershaw, New York Times, 1/2). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.