Young black American gay and bisexual men are 16 times more likely to acquire HIV than white gay and bisexual men, according to a new study.
Northwestern University found black 16-29-year-old men who have sex with men (MSM) are the most at risk of HIV. This is despite reporting fewer sexual partners, more frequent testing and safer sex practises.
Researchers said this is because of ‘more dense and interconnected social and sexual networks’ within the black community.
There are also disparities with access to healthcare after an HIV diagnosis.
The study warned if the trend persists, one in two black men will acquire HIV at some point. This compares to one in five Hispanic men and one in 11 white men.
Senior study author Brian Mustanski said: ‘Black young MSM engage in fewer risk behaviors but have a much higher rate of HIV diagnosis.
‘Their social and sexual networks are more dense and interconnected. From an infectious disease standpoint, [this] makes infections transmitted more efficiently through the group.’
He then added: ‘That, coupled with the higher HIV prevalence in the population, means any sexual act has a higher chance of HIV transmission.’
Researchers collected data from 1,015 men who have sex with men living in the Chicago metropolitan area.
AIDS United: ‘We have to do more to bend this curve’
Jesse Milan Jr. is the president and CEO of AIDS United.
‘This report demonstrates what we already knew to be true,’ he said in a statement to Gay Star News. ‘HIV has never affected all populations equally, having its greatest impact on society’s most marginalized communities.
‘The alarming disparities that we’ve seen in black gay and bisexual men have been so for decades. Despite recent progress in some populations, HIV continues to have a devastating and disproportionate impact on communities of color, especially black gay and bisexual men and transgender women.
‘We have to do more to bend this curve. It’s a moral imperative and its essential to ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.
‘We cannot end this epidemic without addressing the stigma, racial and socio-economic factors that fuel it,’ he said.
Matthew Hodson is the director for NAM in the UK. He told Gay Star News it’s a similar disparity in the UK.
He said: ‘The figure suggesting that, without change, half of all black gay [and bisexual] men in the US will acquire HIV is shocking.
‘Racial inequalities have also been documented in the UK with HIV rates twice as high among black gay men than they were among white gay men.
‘In both countries, we find that services that were built to meet the needs of gay men may not meet the needs of all gay men equally,’ he said.