Monday, July 27, 2009

NEW CHICAGO DATA: HIV Infection Among Men Who Have Sex With Men

Chicago HIV Behavioral Surveillance, 2008
via Chicago Department of Public Health

Exploring Racial/Ethnic Disparities
in Levels of HIV Infection


Background and Methods:
The Chicago Department of Public Health’s Office of HIV Behavioral Surveillance conducted a survey with 570 men who have sex with men (MSM) during 2008. The survey aimed to describe HIV prevalence rates, rates of unrecognized HIV infection, sex and drug behaviors and prevention utilization among MSM in Chicago. MSM were randomly recruited from randomly selected venues where MSM congregate.

91 of 524 (17.4%) MSM tested HIV-positive at the time of the survey. HIV prevalence among Black MSM (30.1%) was at least twice the rate of White (11.3%) and Hispanic MSM (12.0%). Despite observed disparity in HIV prevalence, individual-level sex and drug use behaviors (condom use, knowledge or partner status, etc.) did not differ significantly by race/ethnicity. Fifty percent (50%) were unaware of their HIV infection at the time of the survey. Many persons who were unaware of their HIV infection at the time of the survey had acquired their infection in the past year and were engaged in HIV testing and medical care at similar rates as other MSM. Among those who had not tested for HIV in the past year, fear of testing positive and conversely, perceiving oneself to be ‘low risk’ were the most common reasons cited for not testing.

Levels of sex and drug use behaviors, and consequently, HIV prevalence rates remain high across MSM racial/ethnic groups in Chicago. Continued focus on individual-level risk behaviors and HIV testing will only have a limited impact on reducing racial disparities in levels of HIV infection. Rate of new infections among Black MSM, the background community HIV prevalence among Black Chicagoans, and MSM sexual mixing patterns may be contributing factors to racial disparities in HIV prevalence and need to be addressed in future research and prevention efforts.

Read the full report.

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