HIV Infection Rates Rising in US Latino MSM

Laurie Barclay, MD

October 09, 2015

New diagnoses of HIV infection rose sharply from 2008 to 2013 among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM), despite an overall decline in infection among Latinos during the same period, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Hispanics or Latinos represent about 17% of the total U.S. population and are disproportionately affected by [HIV] infection in the United States," write Kristen Mahle Gray, MPH, from the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues. "In 2013, the rate of HIV diagnosis among Hispanics or Latinos (18.7 [per 100,000]) was nearly three times that of non-Hispanic whites (6.6)."

Mahle and colleagues published the results in the October 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among adult and adolescent Hispanics or Latinos, the overall rate of HIV infection diagnoses decreased from 28.3 per 100,000 in 2008 to 24.3 in 2013 (estimated annual percentage change, −3.6). In contrast, diagnoses of HIV infection among men with infection attributed to male-to-male sexual contact increased from 6141 to 7098 during the same time frame (estimated annual percentage change, 3.0), with a total 16% increase in number of diagnoses.

"The higher rate of HIV infection among Hispanics or Latinos indicates that much work still needs to be done to reach Hispanics or Latinos at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection," the authors write. "Targeted strategies for Hispanic or Latino subpopulations, such as [MSM] and persons who inject drugs, present prevention challenges and warrant expanded efforts."

This analysis included data on new HIV diagnoses reported from 2008 to 2013 to the National HIV Surveillance System. The authors note that the increase among Latino MSM parallels an overall increase in new infections among MSM in previous reports, suggesting potential HIV resurgence in this group. HIV diagnoses decreased in all other transmission groups and were either stable or decreased in all age groups.

Because behavioral risk factors for HIV in Latinos varied on the basis of birthplace, specifically tailored HIV prevention strategies adapted to Latino subgroups are essential. Such strategies may include the need to prioritize testing, care and treatment, and education and availability of protective interventions for those at highest risk.

The authors note several study limitations, including possible misclassification of Hispanics or Latinos and missing birthplace information for 16% of Hispanic or Latino participants.

"CDC and its partners are pursuing a high-impact prevention approach to maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods," the study authors conclude. "Example activities include providing technical assistance to health departments and community-based organizations to deliver effective prevention interventions to Hispanics or Latinos, and supporting testing projects and campaigns that focus on Hispanics or Latinos."

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64:1097-1102. Full text

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