Several southern cities have reported higher HIV rates for gay and bisexual men than the national average, a newly-released study reports.
According to the survey, cities such as Jackson, Mississippi, Columbia, South Carolina, and El Paso, Texas, have above-average HIV rates. Specifically, 3 out of 10 bisexual or gay men have been diagnosed with the virus, which is three times more than the national rate. Overall, 21 out of the 25 metropolitan areas where most cases were reported were located in the south.
The survey, conducted by assistant professor of epidemiology Eli Rosenberg of Emory University, Atlanta, used data gathered in 2012. The findings also showed that around 15 percent of all gay and bisexual men in the US are HIV positive.
This is the first study to indicate HIV rates among US gay and bisexual men according to location. However, the study does not indicate what factors may explain the different rates. It is also worth mentioning that the study only considered HIV rates by taking into account diagnosed cases. Therefore, as a certain number of cases remain undiagnosed, the findings do not show how common HIV infections are in the areas surveyed.
Health officials hope that the conclusions of the survey will help men in the gay and bisexual communities receive more support. According to Dr. Jonathan Mermin of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the study represented “a key piece of the puzzle” illustrating a gap between the South and the rest of the country.
The largest gay and bisexual communities are to be found in some of the largest US cities, such as New York and Los Angeles. However, as the rates of HIV infections are higher in smaller, Southern cities, it offers an insight into the areas lawmakers and private sector actors should focus their attention on.
The findings, Mermin stressed, should help “empower” those engaged in fighting the virus, such as health officials and community organizations and point to them the areas where help is needed the most. CDC officials also praised the research word done and stressed its importance when deciding on the allocation of funds destined to activities aimed at preventing the spread of HIV.
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