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January 2, 2008

HIV Rates Soar Among Young Gay Men in NYC

While new HIV infections are on the decline in New York City—dropping 22 percent overall between 2001 and 2006—prevalence among the city’s young men who have sex with men (MSM) is sharply on the rise, the New York Times reports (nytimes.com, 1/2).

According to the Times story, which confirms a trend that POZ.com reported back in September 2007, new numbers from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene show that new HIV infections rose 32 percent in MSM under the age of 30 from 2001 through 2006. Officials also found that new infections rose an alarming 34 percent among the city’s young black and Hispanic MSM.

The Times reports that the rise in infections may stem from increased substance abuse among young men—including cocaine and crystal methamphetamine—which can lead to lowered inhibitions and an increase in sexual partners. Experts also note that young MSM did not see the horrors of the epidemic’s early days before antiretroviral medication made HIV more manageable.

“When’s the last time we saw someone with lesions walking through Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen?” says Victoria Sharp, director of the city’s Center for Comprehensive Care. “You don’t see it, and we haven’t seen it since the mid-1990s, so there is a whole generation or two who have grown up without seeing the physical manifestations.”


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