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CDC Releases New Data on HIV and Syphilis Rates Among Gay Men and MSM


For Immediate Release                                                                                 Contact: Patrick Malone
March 11, 2010                                                                                       

Highlights Need for Changes in Strategy, Funding
Washington, DC – This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on STD and HIV rates among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The rate of diagnosis of new cases of HIV for MSM was 44 times higher than for other men and 40 times higher than for women. In total, MSM accounted for 53% of new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, even though this group makes up between 2.8 and 5.3% of the population according to the CDC. The discrepancy for infection rates in Syphilis was similar, with MSM experiencing infection rates that were 46 times higher than other men and 71 times higher than women. Despite these higher rates of infection, the new data also showed that counseling, testing, and referral services directed to MSM were disproportionately low.
“Men who have sex with men have been one of the most vulnerable groups since the very beginnings of the HIV epidemic in this country,” said Joseph DiNorcia, Jr., president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “While these infection rates are extraordinarily high, they are not surprising to those of us who have followed trends and know that there can only be negative consequences when education and health policies systematically neglect entire groups of people, such as gay men, bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men.”
Current funding proposals for sex education working their way through the appropriations process focus primarily on teen pregnancy prevention, while treating HIV- and STD-prevention education as more peripheral issues. These new proposals, in combination with the legacy of failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs from the Bush administration, most of which neglect any mention of MSM whatsoever, could continue to leave entire generations of young people without the proper knowledge to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and STDs. Combating the HIV/AIDS and STD epidemics across the country will require funding real, comprehensive sexuality education that addresses prevention of HIV, STDs,  and unintended teen pregnancy, in addition to providing information about healthy relationships, sexual orientation, and gender identity, among other topics.  Furthermore, Congress must fully fund the CDC’s HIV prevention and surveillance program by increasing funding by $877 million.
“For the vast majority of people, the sex education they receive in school will be the last, and only, time they hear about these issues in a formal setting,” continued DiNorcia. “This is why we need to make comprehensive, school-based sex education the foundation of prevention efforts in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. There is no time to waste in adopting policies that work and will adequately address the needs of those populations most at risk, including men who have sex with men.”
For more information, or with any questions, please contact Patrick Malone at (202)265-2405 or