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HIV Infections Spike in Young, Gay Black Men

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty

AIDS activists carry banners past a mobile HIV testing van.

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an alarming spike in HIV infections among young, black, gay men.

During the last four years the amount of HIV infections in young, gay, black men has risen by 48 percent nationally. Gay men between the ages of 13 and 29 accounted for almost a third of all new HIV cases nationally, according to the study.

Health experts in the Bay Area say they're seeing a similar trend.

Emily Arnold, who conducts HIV research in Oakland for UCSF's Center for Aids Prevention Studies, says that stigma makes it hard for this group to seek HIV testing.

"I've had reports of young people getting thrown out of their homes, experiencing violence in their communities because they're too effeminate or they're perceived as being homosexual," she said.

Programs with a peer-to-peer component can be effective in prevention, Arnold said. The CDC study found that young, black, gay men were unlikely to be aware of their infection and often had limited access to health care, HIV testing and treatment.

"We need to go back to the tool box that we know really does work, and try to find funding streams to support that kind of programming," Arnold said.

The overall number of new HIV infections has remained around 50,000 a year, between 2006-2009.

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