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March 26, 2010

Study: 14 Percent of MSM in DC Are HIV Positive

More than 14 percent of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Washington, DC, are HIV positive—five times the overall rate for the city’s adults and teens, according to a study released this week by the district’s HIV/AIDS administration and reported on by The Washington Post.

Interviews with 500 MSM throughout DC found that more than 40 percent were unaware of their status before the study even though they had been to the doctor in the past 12 months. More than a third of men surveyed said they did not know the HIV status of their last sexual partners.

In addition, the survey found that younger MSM in DC had safer-sex behaviors while men older than 30 got tested less frequently, used condoms less often and had more sex partners. These findings were unexpected, said DC Council member David A. Catania (D–At Large), 42, who is gay.

“This is a wake-up call,” Catania said. “It’s time for my generation to assume greater responsibility for themselves and their partners. Just because we escaped the epidemic of the 1980s doesn’t mean we are immune.”

Researchers note that the study might underrepresent some groups and that more studies are necessary to include a wider population.

City health officials are now advising MSM in DC to get tested twice a year.

Search: MSM, study, Washington, DC, teens, adults, HIV/AIDS, testing

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