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Ryan White @ AIDS 2012: Focus on Black MSM

July 24, 2012


Estimates of viral suppression among MSM, by race

From this massive meeting on Day One—300+ speakers, hundreds of posters, running 7AM to after 8PM—one of the “big stories” from AIDS2012 was new data dissecting factors tied to high levels of HIV infection among black MSM. While 61% of new HIV infections in the U.S. are MSM, black MSM (a very small proportion of the total population) comprise a shocking total of 37% of MSM infections. A series of presentations from Health Disparities and the U.S. MSM HIV Epidemic (MOAC01) provided a mix of rich data to examine factors at play.

Some Observations:

  • Behavioral factors tied to HIV transmission are not notably different for black versus white MSM, but black MSM are far more likely to encounter a partner with a viral load >500 copies/ml during unprotected anal intercourse. (MOAC0101) 
  • Black MSM are less likely to be virally suppressed than white MSM (see graphic). (MOAC0102) 
  • Poverty and other social factors are associated within undiagnosed HIV infections among black MSM. (MOAC0105) 

For HRSA and the Ryan White program, these findings are not surprising and reflect work long underway, like the HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau initiative to engage more individuals into care and the SPNS initiative to engage young MSM of color into care. Nonetheless, more is to be done in outreach, HIV testing, engaging people in HIV care.  And in planning where to target resources.  One potential TA tool shared at this session, in the talk Equal Behaviors, Unequal Risks (MOAC0101), is a methodology to measure the presence of detectable viral load in a given community.  Stay tuned to see if that's something to add to Ryan White planning in determining where to target resources.

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